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Footsteps to Follow: Beyond a meaningless existence

Having four kids in school is a challenge for parents, even when everything is going according to plan.

With homework, projects, practices, friends, and jobs, it seems almost impossible to get everything accomplished in a day. Add to that the pressure of online learning, quarantines, and plans that change almost by the hour because of circumstances beyond our control, and at the end of the day, I sometimes find myself asking how we will make it through another day.

Even if you don’t have kids, you probably have similar feelings right now with everything that is going on in our world. And sometimes, those feelings lead us to ask bigger questions about our lives and very existence.

We can find ourselves wondering if there is any point to the things we are doing, which is really just another way of asking the question if there is any meaning to our lives.

We aren’t the first or the last people to ask that age-old question. For years, people have been asking about the meaning of life and writing about their quest to find it. One of the more famous works on the question is found in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. In that book, Solomon searches through everything under the sun to see if he can find meaning and purpose. Unfortunately, Solomon comes to a rather dark conclusion, which he states at the outset of the book: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV).

Many times in our lives, we can feel a lot like Solomon. We may even be tempted to believe that our lives are without meaning. But before we jump to that conclusion, there’s something important to understand about Solomon’s quest for meaning.

Solomon searched for meaning on this earth, but he never looked towards eternity in drawing his conclusions. The whole book of Ecclesiastes is the story of people who see only the here and now and view life as if this is all there is. If we take that attitude, our lives will indeed lack meaning. We will never find what we are searching for by taking up new hobbies, having the latest gadgets, or going on endless shopping sprees.

It is because our hearts were made for something more than the things of this earth. Solomon catches a glimpse of that when he writes that God “has also set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

If we are going to find something of meaning, we must look beyond the “stuff” of this life towards eternity. Jesus taught us that the way to find that most precious gift is to lay aside all of our earthly pursuits and seek Him first.

If we take the time to focus on our relationship with Jesus, not only will we find meaning and purpose, we will find the very thing that our hearts desire: the hope of eternity spent with Him.

For only Jesus can forgive our sins, put meaning into our lives, and guide us through whatever we face in this life!

The Rev. Robert Rice, pastor, Muncy Baptist Church

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