10 And whatever my eyes wanted I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, because my heart found pleasure in all my work, and this was my reward for all my work. 11 Then I thought deeply about all that my hands had done and the labour I had expended in doing it, and my conclusion: all was impermanent and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. 12 So I turned to think deeply about wisdom and madness and folly. Because what can the man accomplish who comes after the king? Only what has already been accomplished.
My journey alongside the collector has given me a new perspective on my personal ambitions. For the past few years, I have been getting more and more involved in writing, as is evident from my books, blogs and the theological journals I edit and write for. Like Solomon, I can now look back on a considerable accomplishment. But, also like Solomon, I can assess my work and my assessment is that there is really nothing new there. I have merely rewritten some things that others have written in earlier generations.
But I have really enjoyed the process. Like Solomon, my reward has been the pleasure I have found in the work itself. What a loving creator we have. He finds joy in bringing us into being, and has created us with the ability to find that same joy in our own creations.
The bad news is that there are currently limits to our own creativity. At some point, each of us will look back and discover those limits. Eventually all of us will die, and the world will go on without us. Others will have their turn under the sun. It is this bad news – so eloquently stated by Solomon – which is the backdrop to the good news we find in the New Testament. There is a chance for another life, an eternal life. In the resurrection life, the joy of accomplishment can go on forever.
LORD, thank you for the wisdom we can find when we discover our present limits, and the joy of anticipating a future life without them.