Becoming Free-Lessons from Ecclesiastes 2:11

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind, nothing was gained under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:11

While watching my grandchildren the other day, I followed the house rules by reminding my granddaughter that her homework had to be finished before she could play. The expectation became that once she finished her school work she could expect to play. I know when growing up I had similar expectations. The expectations of completing chores may have even included a few dollars from time and time, and later when working jobs a pay check, of course, was the expected result of my toils.

From completing our school assignments to working our jobs, we place an expectation that we will receive retribution for our efforts. When checking off our goals, or seeing our first book in print. or walking that 10,000th step of the day, we can measure our efforts as successful. When we exceed sales targets, or run that marathon, or declutter those office drawers, we can feel accomplished and successful from these things. Our expectation can grow that things are what make us a success and life meaningful. The idea that it is the stuff of the world that we can expect to make us feel successful, is planted in us at a very young age from well-meaning adults (something I still catch myself doing to the ones I love).

Things are Temporary

The thing is though, that things are just temporary. That A on that exam, that one marathon, that one completed book can make us wonder what is next to achieve. We search for meaning and happiness from what we have and do. We use things expecting them to serve us instead of seeing them as gifts from God. Solomon called this endless toil for life’s pleasures as “chasing the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Wind passes by us just like our good feelings from our accomplishments. All is temporary.

“We use things expecting them to serve us instead of seeing them as gifts from God.”

What is Meaningful?

Celebrating our achievements, recognizing our talents and gifts, are good things, when we move our expectation from the thing itself being a means to an end. In other words, it is not in the achievements that we receive meaning. When we are no longer expectant of things to bring us meaning, our security and self-worth no-longer are dependent on our successes, accomplishments, or anything that is temporary. We become free to enjoy God’s gifts in our lives.

Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. Ecclesiastes 9:7

And this brings me a cheerful heart! Joy Bailey, author and project manager of Hope Connections, after just picking up first copies for final, final edits (hopefully) of Hope Connections! You can find out more about the project at Inspiring Hope In You.

What gifts from God are you enjoying today? Is there anything you are placing your time and energy into that may one day be considered as a “chasing after the wind?”

14 thoughts on “Becoming Free-Lessons from Ecclesiastes 2:11

  1. Hi Lynn, Your title immediately caught my attention. The concept of “Breathing” has been in my radar this week. Something we should be doing automatically, yet sometimes forget to do. Paradox.

    Interesting point on how success is often measured by stuff and you highlight achieving goals can also make us feel successful. Yet, all is temporary. We have just returned from our unplugged camping trip at Long Beach, West coast of Vancouver Island. Our body and spirt, replenished, relaxed. No stuff. The highlight of our year. Thank you for a thought-provoking post.

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  2. A trip to Long Beach unplugged sounds like it would definitely be replenishing, Erica! Being in the beauty of the Pacific Ocean has one breathing in the freshness only achieved close to ocean waters. I hope you have plentiful breathing spaces experienced throughout your day!

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  3. Wow! This post is exactly what I’ve been reflecting on the past several weeks, Lynn. Your words, “it is not in the achievements that we receive meaning” resonated with me. This evening, as I finalize a proposal, I trust I will honor the gift God has given me and make Him proud. Thank you for this beautiful post, Lynn!

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  4. Lynn, wow. I tend to be a goal-striver-after because, yeah, achievement feels good. . . in the short run. I loved the reminder you give about how things aren’t here to serve us; they are gifts from God. What a great perspective-shift. This post has a lot of thinking points for me. Thank you for that!

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    1. I resonate with being a goal-striver too, Jeanne. I think the difference is if we are pursuing our goals in faithfulness rather than in completion for our own satisfaction and self-worth. It is tricky to keep pushing ourselves out of our own way, isn’t it? 🙂

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  5. Amen! God continues to remind me that it is not in striving or doing, but in resting and breathing in Him. I have appreciated your journal that you sent me this past spring, “Breathing Spaces.” I had other ideas of how this spring & summer would turn out, but God had His own purposes to show me His beauty in the moments of my breathing spaces. Thank you so much for sharing, dear friend.

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  6. When your post showed up in my email “A Place to Breathe” I thought YES, I need some of Lynn’s beautiful photography – I need to breathe. But I came away with so much more than just taking in your beautiful photos: A reminder about perspective. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you Joy. You’ve encouraged me to continue taking and posting photography! My purpose has always been to help bring about a peaceful mind, soul, and heart within anything that I craft!

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  7. this is so good!! The reminder the breath and creating breathing spaces is so huge! I was drawn by the title of your post and have been meditating on parts of Ecclesiastes these days too. thank you for this beautiful post.

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  8. This really hit me right between the eyes: “We use things expecting them to serve us instead of seeing them as gifts from God.” I don’t want to be chasing after the wind but using what God has given me to glorify Him. Thank you for these powerful words.

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