By Elizabeth Prata
“Behold, all is vanity.”—Ecclesiastes 1:14.
Charles Spurgeon wrote in his Evening Devotional for this date, “NOTHING can satisfy the entire man but the Lord’s love and the Lord’s own self. Saints have tried to anchor in other roadsteads, but they have been driven out of such fatal refuges. Solomon, the wisest of men, was permitted to make experiments for us all, and to do for us what we must not dare to do for ourselves.”
Spurgeon continues -“What! the whole of it vanity? O favoured monarch, is there nothing in all thy wealth? Nothing in that wide dominion reaching from the river even to the sea? Nothing in Palmyra’s glorious palaces? Nothing in the house of the forest of Lebanon? In all thy music and dancing, and wine and luxury, is there nothing? “Nothing,” he says, “but weariness of spirit.”
The Book of Ecclesiastes speaks to me. I sometimes mourn the lost decades of my life before salvation, still knowing
that the date, time, second of justification was a moment prepared before the creation of the world, and that His timing is perfect. Then, focusing on His sovereignty, I rejoice that He had a plan. I don’t know it for sure, of course, but I intuit that the lost ‘Ecclesiastes decades’ were to give me an experience similar to Solomon, striving after wind and coming up empty, so that the sweetness of meeting Jesus later in life is all the more.
I did as Solomon did, threw myself into works, travel, dining, acclaim, wisdom, possessions, minimalism, marriage, singleness…I had it all or I tried it all. It yielded only as Spurgeon wrote, “weariness of spirit”.
The heaviness of my failure to resolve that yearning, carrying the burden of sin, the deep weariness of constant seeking yet nothing fulfilling, weighs on the unsaved more than we know. Perhaps that is the reason He left me in the mud for 43 years before lifting me, washing me, standing me upright. Vivid are the memories of seeking, striving after wind, and the heaviness of spirit weighing down every day, tinging its borders with black. Why, when seeming to have it all, did nothing satisfy? Why, when dancing in the light, did it feel so dark? Why, when grasping so tightly, did it always slip away?
What lightness the newly converted feel! What verve, energy, springiness of step! John Bunyan wrote of that moment in The Pilgrim’s Progress,
“…just as CHRISTIAN came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more. Then was CHRISTIAN glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart,
“He hath given me rest by his sorrow,
And life by his death.”
The pagan’s burden is death. It is a ponderous weight to bear. It forces the unsaved to pursue only things that lead to death, though it seems to the unfortunate soul he is hurtling toward life. This burden brings a weariness of spirit as we try to resolve the longing in us which only gets further away the more we strive.
Only when relieved of the burden does he know the difference. Only when the Gospel words of life pierce the heart and separate the soul from its cargo of death does he spring up toward light, fullness, and joy. Wind, vanity, and futility are but sour memories. Does the LORD in His holy habitation say to me, ‘This is why I chose you for life at an older age. So you could remember, child, the burdens of the lost.’ Does the Spirit in me say ‘This is why. Never forget the vanities you strove for and empty pursuits apart from the Savior.’
Apart from me you can do nothing, the verse in John 15:5 says. The lost person’s burden of death is nothing…vanity…futility…wind, and it is so heavy. Have pity on them. Have compassion on them. And praise the Savior for His lovingkindness!
Kings of the earth and all peoples;
Rulers and all judges of the earth;
Both young men and virgins;
Old men and children.
They are to praise the name of the Lord,
For His name alone is exalted;
His majesty is above earth and heaven.