Had a look at my post from this day in my reading plan a year ago. Not surprised that I put down a few thoughts from the reading in Ecclesiastes 2, lot to chew on there.
I don’t play the lottery but, not gonna lie, sometimes I think I’d love to try and see if I could handle being the winner of one. To be unfettered by financial restraints. To pursue what I want to pursue, go where I want to go, play what I want to play, and, yes, even financially support whatever I want to support. That was Solomon’s deal.
What I might dream about from time to time, King Solomon lived out. With pedal to metal he pursued the way of pleasure as well as the way of principle or, as he put it, “how to lay hold of folly” (2:3b) as well as the way of “wisdom.” And in the end, wisdom won — “there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness” (2:13). But also in the end, this mega-lotto winner “hated life.” Because, in the end, if all that life is “is done under the sun” then, he realized, it didn’t matter whether you pursued folly or wisdom, “for all is vanity and a striving after the wind” (v. 17).
But this morning, in my reading in James, another view of “the end.” An end which is really but the beginning. A finish line which is also a starting line. An exit which provides a glorious entrance.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 ESV)
Not gonna debate whether or not Christians should be incented as to how to live here and now in light of receiving rewards there and then (though I personally think that’s why they’re mentioned). But I am thinking about the difference it makes when lives are lived which transcend an “under the sun” view. When the ultimate arbiter of what I do in this life isn’t its legacy, or how it’s summarized on a gravestone, or remembered by someone who knows my history, but is, instead, the way in which it prepares me for my next story — life beyond the sun.
There is a promise of what is to come that puts “what is” into context — the promise of a crown of life. By its name alone, it brings hope — a life beyond this life. A reason for the trial. A reward for choosing to remain steadfast in the way of wisdom rather than give up and default to the way of folly.
A life beyond this life has a way of giving meaning to this life. Providing a context that’s always defining a hard today in terms of a great tomorrow. A promise that helps offset the pressure. The hope of a crown that creates a steadfast resolve that says, “It’s gonna be worth it.” The promise of a crown “to those who love Him” — a crown of life. Abundant life. Fullness of life. Eternal life.
Oh, the difference it makes to know that there is a crown when it comes to dealing with life “under the sun.” A crown beyond the sun.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.
(2Timothy 4:7-8 ESV)
This too, a part of His immeasurable grace. This too, only for His inexpressible glory.