Posted by: pmarkrobb | June 17, 2015

anything but

My family and I are preparing to take, what will likely be, the most deeply emotional vacation of our lives.  It was only nine months ago that my wife’s best friend since college went to be with Jesus, and it was only one year ago that we vacationed with Lisa and her beautiful family in a spot that had become a tradition for our two families.  I cannot begin to tell the story of how intensely beautiful and unlikely that week was.  As we navigated its days and the weeks which followed, we took inventory of an overwhelming number of God’s fingerprints on our week together.  We were so tempted to say it was too good to be true, but how could that be said of something which was so obviously God, so lavishly good, and undeniably true.

In mourning the loss of Lisa’s presence with us here, I deeply identify with the wisdom of Ecclesiastes.  As grueling as it can be to read all twelve chapters, I feel as though I have lived its truth.  It seems so obvious that Solomon wrote the words near the end of his long journey with God.  This was a man who was blessed with unparalleled wealth and wisdom, and in the end judged everything he experienced of this life as meaningless.  Solomon left no stone unturned as he explored the people, places and purposes of this life.  Work, wisdom, wealth … they are all an exercise in chasing the wind.  Play, power, possession … they are grains of sand that slip through your dry fingers.  “Death Comes to All,” reads the heading at the beginning of chapter nine.  Through the lives of many I love deeply, I have come to know that all too well.

Yet in the midst of a season of suffering and the pages of Ecclesiastes, my heart sees clear evidence of hope.  I will not know the wealth or wisdom of Solomon, but my life speaks the very same truth.  It is true that this life, and the things of it, are meaningless.  It is true that every ounce of effort I give to maintaining my home, providing for my family, and pursuing happiness here are grains of sand that slip through my dry fingers.  Anything I accomplish here, not for the purposes of the kingdom, is currency which is only recognized here and is of no value once I return to the dust of the earth.

But then, there it is! – for the purposes of the kingdom.  “Hidden” within the lines of each chapter and verse in Ecclesiastes is a truth which only those who have ears to hear will recognize.  This life – this physical existence consisting of achievement, position, power, pleasure and possession – is nothing, absent God.

If our vacation last year was pressed only through the filter of this life, nothing of substance would have remained.  Its joys would have been rationalized as coincidence and their memory would have likely already faded.  Every detail of our week together would have slipped through our fingers like the sand at the beach we walked to every day.  But God was very present, the memories remain vivid, and the impact on each of our lives is lasting.  We loved, laughed and lived every minute of every day, and we discovered more of Him in the fingerprints He left.  I expect we’ll find many more this year.

Through a season of suffering and the powerful pages of God’s Word, I am beginning to look at this life differently.  I can’t say that I’ve figured much out yet, but I’m hopeful, and I’m seeing things I never saw before.  I won’t assume or assert God’s purpose in the writing of Ecclesiastes, but reading it this week has had purpose in my life.  God’s wisdom through Solomon has spoken directly into my right now.  I wonder if it has for you too.  The things of this life may be meaningless, but a life which is lived with and for Him is anything but.



  1. May be a strange connection, but I cannot keep from going to Psalm 127 (a song of Solomon).

    “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” (vs.1)

    mourning, vacations…….life itself, is in vain apart from its Builder and Watchman! With Him we can Mourn……and Vacation……and Live!! We can also Build and Watch! 🙂 He truly never leaves us or forsakes us. We truly can do nothing apart from Him. We truly can do all things in Him. Our death turned to Life was, and continues to be, 100% dependent on, and provided through, these truths.

    Thanks for sharing thoughts that have lingered with me the last few days in observation……..and now have had opportunity to express themselves in words. 🙂

    Might this 2015 trip be filled with Vacation……and Mourning (the “with Hope” kind)…….and Memories…….and Futures…….and Relationships………LIFE!

    Where, O death, is your sting?! Swallowed up in VICTORY!! 🙂

  2. Amen Brothers, Amen.

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