I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind … What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted. I said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 NASB. Where do you stand? The end times? God of the universe is speaking? The master of the universe is shaking things up? God is on his way back?

Those are statements that we have been hearing all of our lives, especially those who are not as old as I am — or not as young as I am. You can be a witness that some of these sayings are probably as old as the world as we know it. When we say them, it makes us feel comfortable that we have finally reached or drawn the conclusion with which we can live, and then we move on to the next thing on our agenda.

For many years we have been moving on to the next thing on our agenda. Has it all been for naught?

The death of Happy Adams jerked me last week, followed by the 8th grader who died so quickly from this enemy that is prowling among us. At first I got sad, and then I got angry and began asking why was he not given some of the medication that is now available to patients with COVID-19 or the variant? Was the hospital too crowded to treat him? Are we not aware that there are some things beyond our control? Are we fighting and trying to catch the wind?

There are a few things that have come on the scene to hold our attention so much so that we are unable to return to business as usual. The 13-year-old’s death left a sharp piercing pain inside my heart. The raging, out of control fires in seven states burning up millions of acres; local fires in our area; hurricanes traveling different paths; tornadoes devastating areas never before touched by them; flood waters washing away homes and entire towns as they sweep people away; the ravages of COVID-19, along with the devastating Delta variant — they are sure signs of something that is on the rise and will definitely get man’s attention.

Several days ago, I was just sitting and meditating when something called my attention to one of my walls covered with pictures, plaques and graduation certificates of my son. They are from East Rome Junior High, East Rome High, Morehouse College and even one from Princeton University, which is written in Latin. And I asked myself what does it all mean?

I asked myself why are these certificates not hanging on the wall in my son’s house — and I was reminded of what he always says to me when I get bothered about earthly things that mean nothing in the heavenly realm. He says “Mom those things are all temporal. There is nothing lasting about any of that stuff.”

My thoughts were, “Well, what will happen to these things that I am holding so dear to my heart?” Quietly, the Father whispered, “Go to California and Louisiana and ask those people what do these things mean and will they be able to live without them?”

Places where some of them have lived all of their lives, where all of their earthly reminders of their and their children’s accomplishments were housed, have now burned to the ground or been washed away by floodwaters, to never be seen again. We have to reach the conclusion that all are temporal and, even if the fire did not burn or water flood them, they are still going to fade away. They are still going back to the dust as our bodies will go one day.

In the opening paragraph, Solomon begins his exploration of the meaning of life, the purpose of things and where the things of this world lead. His purpose is to warn us that we need not make the same experiment, and pay the same pain. We need to listen to the old master explain why – and avoid the same mistakes. The world just can’t be fixed by man, no matter what we do if we do not engage the Creator.

I believe the man of wisdom is right. This is a fallen world, and until the Lord returns, it cannot be fixed. Of our own efforts we cannot fix the place because of our flesh. As the Word says, only what we do for Christ will count; everything else will burn in the end.

Willie Mae Samuel is a playwright, founder and director of the African American Connection of the Performing Arts Inc. and a 2020 Heart of the Community Award recipient. She can be contacted at artsnow2019@gmail.com.

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