Over the last few weeks we have been studying through the book of Ecclesiastes at church. It has left me undone. I have been undone by the reality of our fleeting life and I have been left desperate to live a life that really matters.
The word “meaningless” is used in Ecclesiastes to describe everything under the sun. The wise teacher says in Ecclesiastes 1:2, “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” The word meaningless in Hebrew is HEVEL. It actually means vapor or smoke. Vapor is used to describe the fleeting of life- here and then not. But the word smoke portrays the things of life that have an appearance of something substantial but when we go to grasp it, there is really nothing there for us to hang on to.
Vapor- Life is fleeting.
Smoke- So much of what we build our lives on has no real and lasting substance.
Beside my sink, I keep a family cookbook my mother in law wrote- part recipes, part family history. It’s a beautiful keepsake. In the quiet of my kitchen late one night as I waited on my favorite heating pad to warm up in the microwave, I flipped through the pages. I have read it all before. But this particular night I flipped to a story about my mother in law’s grandmother. They called her Granny.
As I read, I wept.
The story was about the life of her Granny Sullivan. I saw myself in the story. It could have been a story about so many of our mothers and grandmothers, a life spent and poured out for others.
Granny loved to cook for her family. She was never in a hurry. Time was slow at Granny’s small house. Her table was always full of food. She labored to feed her family. She was the mother of five boys. The story goes that she adored her boys most. She was the doting mama. As her boys grew and wives were added and grandchildren came, Granny still loved and doted over her boys. At Sunday dinner she wanted them to be served and eat first. Her boys were the apple of her eye. They could do no wrong.
That night in the kitchen I read about how as time went on in Granny’s life, as it does in all of ours, the day came when her small house was no longer full. There weren’t as many people to crowd around her little table and that table didn’t need as much food as it once did. When the quiet days came to Granny’s house, the mother who only knew to give, serve, and nurture, started feeding the birds around her home instead of the crowds that once filled it. Granny loved to feed the birds. Her yard become home to all kinds of birds. Even in her old age, she did what she did best- give, serve, nurture.
I like to think that this is what mothers and grandmothers do.
I wept that night because time is fleeting.
It’s part of God’s plan.
My loud and full house will someday be quiet just like Granny Sullivan’s.
The reckoning for me has come in what do I do in the middle.
How do I live today?
What do I do with the vapor?
The same word, HEVEL, is used in Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
But, the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
While everything else is fleeting, wholehearted, Godly devotion and commitment to His ways is worthy to be praised!
Granny Sullivan joyfully fed the flocks her entire life. She poured out her life for others! She lived a life worthy of her calling.
Love them up! Love covers.