Artist’s Lane: A prayer of redeeming love

By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

After watching the habits of a man who spends extravagantly with no end in sight, I made the comment, “Some people have more dollars than sense.”

One man makes millions of dollars, travels the world, lives in big beautiful houses, entertains the rich and famous, enjoys the attention of several women and nothing is out of his reach. Could the end of his days be filled with nothing more than brokenness and emptiness? 

Then there is that man who has more sense than dollars. His life looks different. He lives frugally, ekes out a living, enjoys his wife and children in a modest home and sits in peace with godly contentment. Who is the poor man? Who is the rich man?

As I spent time in the Book of Ecclesiastes, I gleaned the words of the preacher. “The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails …” — Ecclesiastes 12:11.

The story in this book tucked away and overlooked with only 92 words is about a poor wise man. Such a dichotomy, how can a wise man be poor? Doesn’t the wealth of wisdom give this man a rich, full and satisfactory life? How can his words be full of disdain?

The story begins, “There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed a large tower against it. But, there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man. So, I said, wisdom is better than strength. But the wisdom of the poor man is despised and his words are not heeded. The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.” — Ecclesiastes 9:14-17(NASB).

How many times have we received a nudge or heard a quiet voice telling us not to do something? A voice from the wise, a voice for our good, but we say, “I want more than this.”

The first words in Ecclesiastes give us an overview of the book: “Empty of emptiness, everything under the sun is empty.” The last words of the book explains our principle act and gives us an answer for living under the sun, and a reason for hope, because eternity is written in our hearts.

The preacher of this book takes the reader through a journey of doubts and fears, which a soul will encounter during a lifetime in varied activities under the sun.

We have all heard it said before: To everything there is a season. We will, in our time on this earth, experience funerals, weddings, dancing and mourning. We will gain and we will lose, we will keep and throw away. We will engage in living, but the preacher says, everything under the sun is empty.

I’ve quoted truths from this book to my Sweet Al many times and brought reality into our conversation. “We work all our lives and leave what we’ve labored to someone else. They will do what they want with the labor we expend. The rich and poor, the righteous and unrighteous will all die and take nothing to their grave. Yet, we spend our whole lives acquiring things.”

I reminded Al of a man who was worth millions of dollars, yet never seemed to have enough. Why? Without God, everything under the sun is empty.

Without the answer in the back of this book of 12 chapters, we would miss the whole story. At the end of a person’s life, weighed down with excess baggage, which he thought was so important, this weight will be utterly empty, worthless and futile, when he is asked to do only one thing: “Fear God and keep his commandments, which applies to every person.” — Ecclesiastes 12:13,14 (NASB).

Final brushstroke: In a quick walk through a book of realities, we ask ourselves, what is so important that we will fight to our dying day to acquire? What words have we uttered that will not be heard through eternity, but be forgotten? Every work, every word under the sun will stay under the sun. Only those things that God’s spirit has ordained and anointed will last the test of time and will be remembered for generations to come.

This story was posted on April 7, 2021.