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Meaning in the Madness

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?
...What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them. Ecclesiastes 1:2-3, 9-11

Meaningless. Utterly meaningless. That narrative has dominated my heart for several years now, stealing my motivation to participate in disciplined work or develop my writing or engage in efforts to change systems and the people in the systems. Social media posts quickly became meaningless as it became an unchecked avenue to spew self-righteous accusations at the "other" with the only authority being a beginning statement of something like, "I don't usually post but..." or "I don't like to get into political issues but I can't stay silent anymore..." as if the sudden urge to share an opinion publicly with enough outrage is what confirmed the veracity of the statement. Activism became meaningless because the joy of marching and chanting rhymes was utilized by advocates for all sides of issues and nobody was really listening anymore. What may once have grabbed the attention of a target audience quickly became familiar background noise. The words in tweets, opinion columns, facebook lectures, and on picket signs lacked the power to change hearts or effect meaningful change. All of these outraged and accusatory words became meaningless.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

I'd lost my motivation to write because my words felt meaningless, my thoughts felt meaningless, my experiences and intentions were meaningless for others outside of maybe my immediate household. How wonderful that God has reminded me that yes, our many words can be like a clanging gong but HIS Word is powerful and effective, always accomplishing what it intends!

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. Psalm 145:13

Ecclesiastes wasn't wrong that most of our words and actions will be forgotten in generations to come. If I am looking to attain and define the meaning of my life by the lasting impact I have, it will not escape meaningless. But God's kingdom and power and dominion faithfulness and love endures through all the generations. His word is is not forgotten or ignored or ever meaningless because He is always present, always at work, making all things new, and drawing all men to Himself.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5

The Word is God. The Word is Jesus. God's word accomplishes what it sets out to do because Jesus has accomplished and will accomplish all He set out to do. Outrage, opposition, and every human kingdom are going out of business and will be filing for bankruptcy but the God of all life and flourishing and goodness and power and love and peace and healing and reconciliation and joy and light and belonging endures forever. That is meaningful! Even more meaning comes to my words when they aren't about me or my cause or my complaints but about His Kingdom and His mercy and His promises because those words are trustworthy and true and He has invited me to share in them!

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

Where I lost motivation to put effort into things that are perishing (political parties, social issues, personal "vision boards" or lofty self-actualizing goals), God's word and His Kingdom accomplish all the meaning these other things never can. In God's Kingdom, there is neither male nor female, black nor white, old nor young in terms of class or status or hierarchy but all are one in Jesus! In God's Kingdom, I share in Jesus' inheritance regardless of what my own resume has to say about my own accomplishments. In God's Kingdom, there is no poverty or sickness or division or enmity between people groups or animals or the environment or between us and God. His Kingdom is coming on earth as it is in heaven. That has meaning to how I live today, how I view and interact with others, how I care for the places where I find myself. When I can remember who is in charge, who brings about GOOD and will fully eradicate the evil, then I can stop attacking the wrong enemies or trying to build my own sandcastle by the rising tide. What is meaningless are the many words that belittle, shame, blame, accuse, demand, "expose" and divide. What is meaningful are the words that bring life, hope, transformation, grace, peace, love, healing, and redirect my gaze away from my own seat onto the glorious, smiling, and eternal Father sitting on His eternal throne.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. Psalm 19:7-10


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