LIFE IS A VAPOUR | February 22-25
There is a word in Ecclesiastes that is repeated constantly, the word MEANINGLESS. When we read the word, we may think of things with no meaning or significance. While that concept is at play in the text, there is more to be found in the imagery. The Hebrew word that gets translated by the NIV as meaningless is hevel. Hevel’s root meaning is vapour. The word gives us the image of a vapour – something that looks solid until you reach for it and find that it has no substance.
The writer of Ecclesiastes uses the image of a vapour to speak of all the things in our lives we chase after to find fullness, meaning, or significance. Chapter after chapter, we see that the pursuit of knowledge, pleasure, work, position, wealth, and appetite leave us empty and unfulfilled. Though we think that if we can possess, achieve, or accomplish one of these things we will find our meaning, our humanity, we soon discover that in the moment of grasping and holding on, the vapour disappears.
None of these things are inherently bad. Indeed, they are part of what it means to be human and to enjoy the goodness God has intended for us. However, they cannot be enough for us. We are created to find our fulfillment in the Triune God. He alone can be our source of ultimate meaning.
In some ways chasing after meaning apart from God is an attempt at achieving our own sense of divinity, of rising above the frailty of our humanity to make something lasting for ourselves.
To be human though, is to live with limits, to live with the inability to satisfy our ultimate cravings, and to live with the recognition that no matter what we achieve, possess, or accomplish, one day we will die.
This Lent season we want to embrace our humanity and our limits through the lens of each of these vapours, and become wholly dependent on God as our source of ultimate meaning.