Saturday, May 17, 2008

The End of the Matter

[I signed up with blogger forever ago -- sometime last year -- and I truly, truly did have the *full* intent of posting lots and lots of blogs right away. But then life got the best of me, and I pretty much forgot all about this little place until a few weeks ago. Well, anyhow...to make a long story short, it is I who have now gotten the best of life. :-) Hence, posting blogs should be much more feasible over the next few months. :-) And so! Without further ado, here is my first blog post! *applause*]


I read a book once, and it changed my life forever. It revolutionized my outlook on life. Not that I was actively seeking any kind of life-altering experience or anything. The book simply came to me at a time when I was just beginning to ask some of the questions that it answers. In many ways, it is one of the first “philosophic” books that I was ever able to connect with personally. I’m actually sitting at my laptop with a narrative copy of it right now – it’s cover is black with red lettering, and on the back it says: “What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun?”

It’s the book of Ecclesiastes, for those who don’t recognize the quote. My mom, knowing it to be my favorite book of the Bible, recently bought a single, narrative copy of it for me. *smiles*

I first read the book years ago, apathetically flipping through the chapters, not exactly understanding what I was reading and not necessarily caring either. As I was reading, my older brother came into the room and asked me what I was doing. “Reading Ecclesiastes,” I remember mumbling. “Oh really?” he said, “And what’s that about?” “Oooh…” I said tentatively, “it’s about how everything in life is meaningless.” I looked at him blandly, but then, as if by a sudden spark of inspiration, I quickly added, “except with the Lord.”

Suddenly, a whirlwind of meaning seemed to sweep over me, and I was dumbfounded by the fact that such a profound statement could come out of my mouth. “Everything in life is meaningless except with the Lord.” The thought was revolutionary.

I remember staring at my brother for a short while just taking the thought in. Everything in life is meaningless, I thought. Is there anything in this world that is not utterly futile in the end? People try to find meaning through any number of desperate, empty solutions. Wealth, success, fame, reputation, relationships, status – but what’s the point? It’s like building a castle made of sand. It’s never going to last, so what’s the point of building it in the first place? Nothing in life lasts. Nothing brings the satisfaction you think it should bring – so what’s the point? Why does the sun bother to rise if it’s only going to set again? What’s the point of living if you’re only going to die?

“What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun?” The question suddenly took on a whole new meaning. “What will I get for all my toil and anxious striving?” I had never thought of rewording the question like that, but now it just seemed natural. That was the whole point of the book!

I looked back down at my Bible and saw for the first time what the “preacher” was trying to communicate. With my new eyes, I started from the beginning and read the entire book through again, my interest finally culminating in the last two verses:

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

I reread these last two verses several times before finally looking up. This was the answer! This was the point! People scramble endlessly trying to find some kind of meaning to their life, yet more often than not they fail. Why? Because they never look beyond themselves; they never search beyond the futility of this world. People are so busy playing with their sandcastles that they never notice the towering palace before them. But if they were just once willing to look beyond themselves and into the eternal mysteries of an immutable God, they would find a reality that is far more real and solid than anything this life could offer.

Everything in this world is passing. There is nothing that will not fade with time. There is no pleasure that will not grow stale, and no relationship that will not bring disappointment. If we want to find lasting joy, we must find purpose in something that will not pass away. In Ecclesiastes 3:14, we read that “whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it.” God is the only thing – the only one – who is lasting. His reality is eternal, and His purposes unchanging.

As for me, my life is nothing more than dust on a chalkboard – the things I do today are just as easily erased tomorrow. What is my life in comparison to eternity? A hundred years from now, all of my “toil and anxious striving” will amount to nothing more than a name on a gravestone. It all seems so futile.

All of these thoughts flashed through my mind in an instant as I stared at my brother in the living room. And I understood it all. Since that day, there have been many times in my life where I have asked myself, “What’s the point? Why should I bother?” Yet it is at those times that I am driven to the words of the preacher in Ecclesiastes. Nothing “under the sun” lasts – “all is vanity and a striving after wind” [Ecc.1:14]. Without God, everything is meaningless; and yes, my life would be completely and utterly futile if I never looked beyond what this empty world “under the sun” offers. If I ever want my life to amount to something of significance, I need to be rooted in something eternal and unchanging. In other words, I need to be rooted in the everlasting God, for He is the only one who can make all that I do “under the sun” last in eternity.

This is, in essence, the reason why I chose to name my blog “The End of the Matter.” As Solomon put it, the “end of the matter” is to “fear God and keep his commandments.” In the end, this one simple truth really is all that matters, for God is the only being in existence who is capable of making what we do truly last.

I have found lasting purpose in God; and therefore, I know that my life will matter even when I am dead and gone and nobody even remembers my name. Even during my lifetime, when I am endlessly striving after some unseen goal and everything I do seems to be amounting to nothing. God makes it matter. It is this simple truth that has revolutionized my life and now drives the purpose behind everything I say and do – including this blog.

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

Because I fear God, my life matters. What makes your life matter?


12 comments:

Holly said...

Okay, I admit that I don't have the time at the moment to read the whole post, but I quickly skimmed it and it looks wonderful. :D

And I just wanted to say hi and that I'm so glad to see you blogging! ;-)

love you!

Angela said...

love it-- thanks for your insightful thoughts!

Victor T said...

Dear Bridget:

Thank you for your inspiring words. I will read Ecclesiastes again.

It is encouraging to see a teenager ponder such thoughts and come to such conclusions.

Your life will matter and you will accomplish "lasting" things because of the goodness you have rooted yourself into.

So ... will this blog have more than one post? Or is it "The End of the Matter"? :-)

Victor T.

Bridget Eileen said...

Hopefully I'll have more blog posts in the future. :-) Rest assured, they probably won't *all* be this long! ;-)

and thank you, everyone, for all the encouraging comments. :-D

Ully said...

Very well put, that really makes me look at Ecclesiastes from a whole different angle!

Thank you!

adomini said...

andrew Domini here ( rustams brother)


very very good
you might want to consider going into some kind of journilisim

thanks
AD

Zach T. said...

Wow, yeah just to re-iterate what everyone else has said...this definitely makes me look twice at Ecclesiastes, and really ponder why I am doing what I am doing....great post with wonderful insights....keep up the good work.

Mrs. H said...

Bridget, This my first ever blog encounter. Your blog left me quietly sitting with a smile on my face. I'm so glad one of your biggest fans directed me there.

Proverbs 2:1-6

These verses always give me an image of us needing to be motivated, hard-working miners of the Word of God. Keep mining, Bridget. God is blessing your diligence.

Love and prayers-

J.D. said...

hey, Bridg. this is Josh from West. Lit. Great job, I love Ecclesiastes, and I think you really captured the essence of the book.

Many people will just read all of the so-called "depressing stuff" in the book and completely skip the last two verses. I think it's one of the more uplifting books in the Bible because it tells you what matters! Then again, I love Lamentations, so maybe I'm just weird.

Anne said...

Thanks for sending me the link to this post, Bridget. That God truly is the end of a matter is a good reminder at any time, but I especially needed it today. Thanks! :)

Daniel said...

A brilliant post! God is the only end worth pursuing, for all other ends end in futility and meaninglessness. God IS life!!

Madeline said...

I found your blog through Alex and Brett Harris' website, where they posted your "going to college" video-- which, by the way, is amazing. I really admire you, from what I've seen on this blog and from the video. Both really encouraged me.

This post says so succinctly something that has been, for a long time, heavy on my heart, and helps clarify some questions I'm wrestling with. Thank you so much and God bless you at college!