When All Is Vanity

by - October 08, 2010

And I keep coming back to this:

Why was I thirsty, when the River of Life was rushing right there on my counter top?

The cycle has repeated itself more times than I care to count:

The determined vow: daily will I meet with Him.
Then beginning strong, thinking, "No problem, I can do this thing."
Routine somehow morphs:  easy-peasy into steady as she blows,
Which reduces itself unnoticed into...I think I can, I think I can....
Finally the death knell:  Missing one day won't hurt, I have too much to do today.

There's that; and then there's the morning routine:  empty the dishwasher, begin to reload, pack three lunchboxes, recite the breakfast offerings to three unenthusiastic kids, the shrill countdown to oh-my-gosh-we're-gonna-be-late. There's also the laundry baskets, the bills, unopened mail, supper plans, and a blinking, beeping smart phone sounding a night's worth of notifications. And that's all before 7:30 am, the day still young, the "To Do" list still long.

What advantage does man have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?
...the sun rises and the sun sets;
And hastening to its place it rises there again.
...All things are wearisome;
Man is not able to tell it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing;
...I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after the wind.
~Ecclesiastes 1:3, 5, 8, and 14

One day may not have hurt, but when they add up to a month of days, they begin to thirst from the striving after the wind. The circuit ends in vanity, futility, a hamster wheel with a weary traveler.

I search for the compass of meaning and hope, but find
"Used up"
on the dial that used to show True North.

I know this, and still I cycle again and again, the hamster in his wheel. Why do I do this to myself over and over?

The Hebrew word habel is vanity. It means unsubstantial, fleeting, like a breath or a vapor.

Meaning seeps out of the cracks of the earthen vessel that I am when I exhale life's heaviness, the vapor. We leak Living Water when we live in the flesh, and we thirst, because the flesh, the dust of the earth, does not hold spirit but spirit holds together the flesh.

And we so often live life inside out and upside down. We live by the flesh, under the sun, when God's word says walk by the spirit; you are seated with Christ above the earth in heavenly places.

We struggle because it's part of the curse. We struggle because of our slavery ... and by God's design.

For the creation was subject to futility, not willingly, but because of Him, who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. ~Romans 8:20-21

What kind of God would subject us to futility (the New Testament/Greek equivalent to the Old Testament/Hebrew habel) against our will?!

The kind Who rescues us in our need;
when we saw our shame and hid from him in the garden.
when we disregarded his command and tasted forbidden fruit.
when our eyes were wide open to the knowledge of good and evil.
when we turned away from faith in him and became our own source of discretion and discernment.

But our judgment is unfair and inequitable because it serves our self-interest. We will always judge a matter to protect ourselves just as Adam and Eve hid from God when they saw their nakedness.

When our sin separates us from our God, He comes to us, and He brings a curse to offer us freedom.

Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorn and thistle it shall grow for you;
and you will eat the plants of the field;
By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread;
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you will return.
~Genesis 3:17-19

God cursed the earth under the sun, and every earthly thing we do under the sun is subject to the curse.

We toil and we sweat with our labor, yet it is futility. We leak out our water from our dust of the earth and our souls gets thirsty.

Then he offers freedom:  that in our thirst we might seek Him - not under the sun but above it, as a deer pants for water. That we would guard against the earthly things from crowding out the godly in our lives. That we never again leak his water from our dust that dry-rots.

I need to learn this lesson once and for all, to stop the hamster wheel and the vanity. Stop the rushing River from spilling on the counter in my kitchen and redirect it to daily spill into my spirit that holds together my flesh.

That He might fill me up and I might never thirst again.

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  1. Dawn, like you, I find my quiet time in the early mornings. It's easier to get up early when I've gone to bed at a proper time to allow me eight hours of sleep. I love it when I'm up at 6, take care of the animals, make coffee and read God's word then, from 7 to 8:30, listen to M. Yossef, A. Begg and C. Swindoll on XM radio.
    Other ways I am fed by His word...I have the entire KJV Bible on CD player. I can spin, quilt or knit as I listed to God's word on CD or even work out and listen on the MP3 player.
    You, Dawn, are blessed with children and in a different stage of life; you have to find what works for you best. But do figure it out; eternity is worth it all.

  2. Dawn, I thought that was one of your best blog post yet. Great spiritual insight on the flesh and the Spirit and the struggle we walk through (as part of God's plan, Rom. 8)and the great reward of seeking the Lord. Because I know you really well, I believe that your desire is not just to emphasize having a quiet time with God but seeking God in a way that results in a functional salvation. Many people have "quiet times" with God every morning and like telling others that they do, but living the God-life in a real, functional way is another thing. Thanks for challenging me and helping me to see a new angle on the blessing of the curse. Praise God He (Christ) became the curse for us so that we have a way to be at peace with the Father and bring glory to Him. Keep writing like this and you might have a book on your hands. Love you always!

  3. Yes, Mike. This post is not about a consistent quiet time, but about living out our earthly lives with meaning attached to them, and how to find that meaning. It is our spiritual life that gives purpose to the earthly, not the other way around. It's tempting to try to view it oppositely. When life gets busy, what I tend to let go of first is the only thing that causes all the others to make sense.

    So it is a post about the absolute necessity of a relentless pursuit of God, the reward of finding him, and seeing that God's secret mercy to us is the fact that otherwise all is vanity - and the safety net that vanity (and the curse that caused it) is.

    The way to succeed in this is to win the daily battle of the spirit against the flesh. To never wander off this battlefield, engaged in our earthly responsibilities and pursuits.

    Mike, your compliments mean so much because you give them only when they are warrented. I love you for that. Come home to me soon. I am only a half without you.

  4. Beautiful post! You are exactly right- we often let go of the one thing that should trump everything else, but all we can see is the dishes and laundry and kids that need cared for. And without that time with Him the rest of that work is in vain.


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