By the time we reach our golden years we have probably given this subject a lot of thought. Has my life been successful? What have I accomplished? Have I been able to fulfill the dreams I had? And here is the huge one-is it too late?
You must begin by asking yourself how you define success. We may mistakenly think it is different for each person but at the root it is not. Let me explain.
You may be saying…
Many folks measure success by family. I raised three amazing sons who are decent and kind people.
I have been happily married for X number of years.
My work/career was very rewarding.
I have been comfortable accumulating wealth enough to see me through old age. I can retire well.
I have travelled extensively.
I have a wonderful home.
I have accomplished what I set out to.
I have continually learned and grown.
People look up to me. People listen to me.
And yet, all this doesn’t feel like enough. This doesn’t thrill me as it should, as I thought it would. I followed the all rules but still I feel void and empty.
You may not feel content about where you are in life. Solomon didn’t either. He wanted answers too. He went on a quest to find the secret of success, the meaning or significance of life.
We are not sure how old he was when he wrote Ecclesiastes, but he was old enough to have accumulated massive wealth, power and success. He was renowned for it. In fact, in 1 Kings 10 the Queen of Sheba went to see for herself if what she had heard about Solomon was true. After testing and questioning him extensively, the Bible tells us she was overwhelmed by his wisdom and his riches. Solomon was actually known as the teacher. People would listen to his wise counsel and understanding of God. He seemed to know how the world worked so they listened to him so that they too could become successful. Still he pressed on, not yet satisfied, always looking for more depth of meaning in life. After all of his investigating, Solomon does have some profound insights he shares with us.
In Ecclesiastes he writes about chasing the wind and the meaninglessness of everything. All is vapor. He sounds disillusioned and depressed. He even states that everything is done in vain. All that he had worked for, built, learned, acquired and discovered in his life was for nothing. That’s quite a statement for this mega King. He had asked God for great wisdom but even that was not satisfying. Maybe life is all about pleasure he thought but this too is to no avail he concluded. He found it hollow.
I think we need to park here for a moment. There was nothing in this world that this man couldn’t have, plus he had been blessed with God-given wisdom. He had lands, animals, a huge family with many wives, children, and concubines, servants and subjects all at his beckon call. At just the slightest hand gesture he could go anywhere or do anything he wished. I guess to many he had success all wrapped up with a pretty bow around it. Solomon was the ancient Elon Musk. People aspired to be just like him. There was little left for him to learn or conquer. He had pursued and captured it all. Life was better than good. It was exquisite, at least it looked exquisite! Yet after all his seeking, examination, and testing he was still driven to search for meaning in living-disastrous really, a poignant reminder that we can appear to have it all but still not be content in life. Tragically we see this all too often in the news. So if you find yourself lamenting the same questions you are certainly not alone. This has been queried since the beginning of time and the older we grow the more important it becomes to find the answer- what is a successful life? What brings it meaning?
From the moment we are born we are in a queue to eventually one day, sooner or later, move through that turnstile at the end. I know one day it will be my turn. The truth is, today is one of the last days of my life…and it is for you, too, like it or not, ready or not. I love this because as I get nearer to the end and can now perhaps see that turnstile in the distance I MUST realize how very important today really is. And, along comes that question again-have I reached success.
This was Solomon’s final conclusion. “Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.” Ecclesiastes 12:13
After assessing it all in my own life, I have concluded that everything is nothing without God. Everything else truly pales in comparison: nothing I have learned, where I have lived, what I have accumulated, the beauty I have seen, even those I love are all gifts from my generous loving Father. I see that my own success is SOLELY based on just one thing and one thing alone-how much I resemble my Heavenly Father.
And, by the way, it is never too late to become successful.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” No age limit here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8