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Ecclesiastes 11

Ecc 11:1-2 . . Send your bread forth upon the waters; for after many days you will find it. Distribute portions to seven or even to eight, for you cannot know what misfortune may occur on earth.

In Solomon's opinion; a well-rounded person is charitable. Altruism is one of those characteristics that should be included in everyone's social résumé; and makes us a better person for it. Nowadays, college aspirants have to put in some time benefiting their communities in some way because it looks good on a college application.

They say charity begins at home. From there, it moves on out into the neighborhood, and ultimately into the world: foreign aid for example. Some people object to foreign aid because it drains American resources badly needed on the home front. But drain or not, it's a good policy. Not only is it humanitarian, and therefore morally right; but you just never know when America herself will be down and out and the very people who were down on their luck that we assisted with weapons, food, technology, and medicine, might one day reciprocate and help us out in some way.

America is sometimes accused of buying friends with foreign aid, and no doubt some of that is true. But not always. And even if it were 100% true; so what? You don't need to love people to be charitable. It makes good sense to build yourself a base of good will just in case you need a favor some day. People you have helped are more inclined to help you back than those you ignored; and in this big bad world, you need all the friends you can get.

"I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." (Luke 16:9)

Most of the time, guests wear out their welcome and sometimes are even asked to leave. But "eternal dwellings" suggests that out of gratitude for your charity, your host is likely to be favorably inclined to invite you to remain as long as you like.

Ecc 11:3-6 . . If the clouds are filled, they will pour down rain on the earth; and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, the tree will stay where it falls. If one watches the wind, he will never sow; and if one observes the clouds, he will never reap.

. . . Just as you do not know how the life-breath passes into the limbs within the womb of the pregnant woman, so you cannot foresee the actions of God, who causes all things to happen. Sow your seed in the morning, and don’t hold back your hand in the evening, since you don’t know which is going to succeed, the one or the other, or if both are equally good.

Just about any mention of a "God" in the book of Ecclesiastes is superficial rhetoric, and has nothing to do with genuine faith.

What Solomon is saying is: If people waited until all the conditions were just right, life would pass them by. In other words: Life is a risk. Take it.

Ecc 11:7-8 . . How sweet is the light, what a delight for the eyes to behold the sun! Even if a man lives many years, let him enjoy himself in all of them, remembering how many the days of darkness are going to be. The only future is nothingness!

We know from the revealed portions of scripture that the afterlife is neither darkness nor nothingness. But in the limited perception of the man under the sun, one's existence on earth is all there is. Philosophically then, it's wasteful to suppress one's potential in this life when death is so inevitable.

» Ecc 11:9-10 . . Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. So, remove vexation from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.

I let my past go too fast
No time to pause.
If I could slow it all down,
Like some captain whose ship runs aground,
I could wait until the tide comes around.
Time Stand Still, 1987

Life can't be put on hold, nor can one pause and savor the moment because moments are momentary. The instant moments happen, they become fixed in the frozen sea of the past. People who think to save themselves for marriage for example, can do no such thing. One cannot save life as if it were possible to put life in storage. No, life goes on. When people try to save themselves for later; they only end up letting themselves go to waste because youth isn't static; no, youth is left behind like the treads of a rope bridge crumbling off behind you for every step taken as you cross over to the other side; ergo: the time to live life is while you have it; not wait to live it later after you've gone to seed. That rope bridge steadily gets to the point when there are no treads left to retrace your steps.

Young people should enjoy a young person's life to the fullest while they have the chance; but of course not to excess because any reasonable sense of justice expects a day when a supreme being will call everyone into account. But nevertheless; there is a lot to life that can be fully enjoyed only while we are young. Age takes the pleasure out of many things in life that were once fresh and exciting.

Take Disneyland in Los Angeles for example. Walt's park was built in the 1950's, completed just three years before I became a teen-ager. Oh; how I yearned to go there and ride the Jungle Cruise, a boat ride on the rivers of the world-- and we lived in San Diego, only a measly ninety miles from Anaheim. Well, my mom and dad never did take us; and I didn't go on my own until I got out of the Army; but by then the thrill was gone; it was more of a curiosity than a pleasure. You know why? Because I wasn't a kid anymore. So don't let youth slip through your fingers. Don't put off kid things till you are older; because when you are older, kid things won't be near as much fun nor will they be nearly as interesting either.

There was a time when I had 20-20 vision and could gaze at the stars with my naked eyes and see them all crisp and sharp, even the really tiny ones. Then one day I started noticing birds with four wings. Astigmatism had crept up on me and there was nothing I could do about it except start wearing glasses.

In later years, I developed cataracts; which make it difficult to drive at night because the headlights of oncoming cars are like looking at flares through an oily window and make it really hard for me to see the white lines. Even in bright daylight, cataracts prevented me from reading street signs till I was very close and then of course too late to safely turn on the one I wanted. So now I have artificial lenses in both eyes to go along with the artificial joints that I already had in both knees.

Romance especially is dulled by age. When you're young, love and romance take your breath away, you can't sleep for the excitement of it all, and all you can think of is being with your lover. Well, when you get older, it's not like that. And I don't mean real old either. People in only their mid thirties and forties no longer feel the same rush any more.

As a case in point, I dated a little in high school. Afterwards, during three years of active duty in the Army I avoided girls and did no dating at all. After discharge, I dated a girl when I was 21 and then completely lost interest in dating till I was 32. But guess what? That decade of celibacy rendered me almost completely frigid. I could feel very little chemistry with girls; they were simply people of a different gender. The only reason I married at all is because of the aging process. One day while shaving, as I looked in the mirror I noticed my face beginning to sag and my hair thinning and receding. It was a wake-up call. I realized the time of life for starting a family was rapidly slipping away where before I gave it no thought at all.

Life is one of those things that you cannot go back and do over. You're only young once; and you feel the feelings of the young only once too; and that's for a relatively brief time compared to the remainder of your life.

I was once asked, in the 6th grade, by a sadistic male school principal who caught me acting silly in the cafeteria: "Aren't you ever going to grow up?" I answered; "I don't want to grow up." He was immediately indignant, and demanded to know why. I replied; "Because grown-ups are unhappy."

He was annoyed by my answer; but no doubt knew in his heart I was right. I never saw that man happy. He was always irritable and upset at the students for one thing or another and everyone feared him. You know, looking back, I don't think that man was even 35 yet; and just look how much of the exuberance of youth he had already lost even by the time of that relatively early age.



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