MY CUP IS HALF FULL

Mark Pickup

June 25, 2012

There are so many things I do not understand. Perhaps it doesn't matter. The only thing that counts at the conclusion of my life is whether I loved Christ and obeyed his commandments. The learned man and the simpleton will come to the same end.

The Book of Ecclesiastes says: "The wise man has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. Yet I knew that one lot befalls both of them. So I said to myself, if the fool's lot is to befall me also, why then should I be wise? Where is the profit for me?

"And I concluded in my heart that this too is vanity. Neither of the wise man nor of the fool will there be an abiding remembrance, for in days to come both will have been forgotten. How is it that the wise man dies as well as the fool?" (2.14-16).

Because of this realization, the author said he loathed life (verse 17). To hate life because the wise man and the fool both die is astonishing. The author concludes that all is "vanity of vanities" and "grasping at the wind."

Ecclesiastes has a sense of futility and cynicism about man's time on earth. Generations come and go. Future generations forget much of what went before them. What you or I build will be dispersed when we die and our work and accomplishments forgotten.

PUFF OF SMOKE

The Psalms speak about the brevity of life. The Apostle James put it bluntly: "You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." Every generation passes away and is eventually forgotten.

My grandfather's academic achievements and community status are gone and forgotten. Nobody remembers him.

The places where my father's stores once stood are decrepit old buildings now with no indication his businesses were ever there. All he laboured for is gone, like dust in the wind. The only physical evidence that Howard Pickup was ever here is a gravestone in a country cemetery and a school that bears his name. (Most of its students know nothing about him.)

Other than that, all that remains of him are my memories that recall his ambitions, hopes and dreams. That, too, will eventually turn to dust.

Earthly wisdom and all that people gather from "under the sun" will come to nothing. Wise men like my grandfather and father as well as fools like me will all die and be gone like the wind.

Yet, I must not loathe existence because of this: Life is a gift. It is only wisdom that comes from God – and work done for the kingdom of God – that will last into eternity.

Ecclesiastes concludes, "The last word, when all is heard: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is man's all; because God will bring to judgment every work, with all its hidden qualities, whether good or bad."

Jesus confirmed this when he said, "A good person brings forth good out of a store of goodness, but an evil person brings forth evil out of a store of evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12.36-37).

Future generations will forget you and me but God will not forget us. We all will fail the test if judged on the purity of our words and actions. Only through forgiveness and salvation which is so freely offered through faith in Jesus Christ can any of us withstand the day of judgment.

JUST PASSING THROUGH

Life on earth is transitory. Why build your treasure here? It will age or grow obsolete, rust or wear out. You and I will die and leave everything earthly here. Seek first the kingdom of God; build your treasure in heaven.

When we experience a life-transforming encounter with Jesus Christ, "the things of this world grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace."

Those words are from a wonderful old hymn called Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. It was a hymn that meant much to me in the early years when multiple sclerosis was stripping me of my physical abilities and earthly priorities. It was all vanity. I was grasping at the wind.

Christ is changing my focus to things that are eternal not temporal. We all can gain eternal perspectives if we turn our eyes upon Jesus.