“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low—they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets—before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, all is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 ESV)
Remembering means not regretting
Not long ago I attended my 30-year high school reunion. 30 years. I’m here to tell you I blinked…and 30 years were gone. To the young people reading this, I remember when I was your age and I heard people that were my age now, and I sat there thinking, “OK, old guy, that’s the way it is for you, but I’m 19 years old, the world is my oyster. I’ve got my whole life ahead of me. It’s going to be different for me.” No, it’s not. You are going to blink and all of a sudden you’re not only going to be your mom or dad’s age, you’re going to look a lot like your mom or your dad. You’re going to blink and a decade or two is suddenly going to have passed and you’re going to think like I think, what happened? Where did that time go?
How easy it is to fritter away and waste your life doing all sorts of silly things that when you are a pile of dust in the grave, you look back and think, why did I waste my life on those things? Why did I spend so much time and energy worrying about those things? If it doesn’t matter when you’re dust, it doesn’t matter. Orient your life toward that pile of dust that you’re going to be and live your life in a way that when you get to the end of it you don’t look back at your life and think, I regret so much of what I did. I regret so much of the time that I wasted. I regret so many of the things that I cared about that now I look back on them and I think, who cares about that?
Remember your Creator when you’re young and you can make that change and write the story of your life still. Because when you are old, that story is largely written. And you can’t go back. You’re getting ready to step into eternity. You’re getting ready to give an account for your life to him who will judge the living and the dead. You’re getting ready to give an account for all that time and all of that energy and all of the things that you were passionate about. All those years of not really remembering your Creator, but living for you. You’re about to stand before Almighty God. And you better be ready for it. And now is the time before the evil days come to live in the way you’ll be glad you did when you’re that pile of dust. That’s what Solomon is saying. And that’s a powerful message in a world today that lives for the moment.
We can say, someday I’ll get to remembering God but today I’m intentionally forgetting because I have some things I want to do. There are some sins I want to enjoy. I’ll get serious about spiritual things someday. That day often never comes. What’s worse than being a geezer? A geezer with regrets, but now no energy or opportunity to redo his or her life.
Young people, now is the time to live for the Lord, not to sow wild oats. Not to presume on the grace of God. Not to litter your life with regrets that will haunt you at the end of your life. “Many have remembered too late. None too soon.” (Charles Bridges as quoted by Philip Graham Ryken, Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters, p. 273.)
Ever see a bitter old man? He’s grouchy. Self-centered. Bitter about his life. What’s going on there? He forgot God in his youth and he’s forgot God in his old age.
Compare that to the man or woman who remembered God, served God, loved God. As his life comes to a conclusion, while not without missteps along the way, he looks back at a life of remembering God and how it shaped his time and service. His perseverance in trials. His joys and sorrows. He looks at his trembling hands and his dentures and his bowed legs and thinks, “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
Remembering our Creator day by day allows us to rejoice in him at the end of our days. That is not a meaningless life. That is the meaningful life. Forget God? Life is meaningless. Remember your Creator? Meaningful, meaningful. All is Meaningful.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©2016 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here