Ecclesiastes 12:1 - 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."
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
You probably have a sieve in your kitchen. They're usually made of metal—either solid metal with holes in the bottom of the bowl or metal wire mesh shaped into a bowl. A sieve's job is to hold back some things and let the rest pass through. In the case of a broth or a soup stock, a sieve separates what is wanted from what is not wanted. A sieve isn't meant to hold the broth; it's meant to strain it.
The reading for today comes from the last chapter of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes means "gatherer." That's what the author calls himself, a gatherer. He gathers his observations together, puts them in a stock pot, and brews up a rich broth of wisdom for us. But to get that rich broth, first he needs a sieve. He needs to filter out the foolishness so that we don't get a mouthful of gristle or choke on a bay leaf. According to Ecclesiastes, that's what this mortal life is good for. This mortal life is not like stock pot, a soup bowl, or even a ladle. It's not meant for gathering or holding. It's meant for straining.
Ecclesiastes says he spent many of his early years trying to use this mortal life like a stock pot—to hold as much as he could, to check off everything on his bucket list. But his bucket had a hole in the bottom of it—several, actually. Life kept slipping through his fingers like liquid through a sieve. He learned that if you try to use it like a stock pot you will be disappointed. If this mortal life were all there was, we would be sipping broth through a sieve. But if there were more—if mortal life is a moment of sifting, of straining for something better, a step to a much richer broth? If all we had was Ecclesiastes, we'd still be guessing. But this book is only a single chapter in the Bible's story, the story that leads to Jesus.
Jesus descended into the soup with us. He was strung out and strained on the cross for us. He passed through death and judgment as through a sieve to save us. And yet He lives again, risen again on the other side to tell us about it. Jesus says this mortal life isn't all there is. He says the hour is coming "when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live" (John 5:25b).
His promise there is for you. Trust Him and you have eternal life, starting now. Now, like a first course, and a new perspective on God's bigger plan for us. And then, the rest can just pass through. You don't have to hold onto it because Jesus is holding you. In Him you can be bold with this life, and sensible, and entrust it all to God. There is no security in this mortal life, but only in true life, when Jesus comes again to raise the dead and restore all things. Until then, take this life for what it is. It's a sieve, not a stock pot.
WE PRAY: Jesus, this straining is uncomfortable. It hurts. Thank You for being in it with me. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. Read Ecclesiastes chapter 11 and 12. And again, out loud this time. Which part sticks with you?
2. These chapters counsel us to be bold (Ecclesiastes 11:1-6), joyful (Ecclesiastes 11:7-10), and mindful of God (Ecclesiastes 12:1-8). Which of those three characteristics would you like to grow in?
3. What is one daily habit, practice, or ritual that could help you grow in this way?
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