“Before you know it, it will be next Christmas”
This was spoken to me in January. And it’s hard to believe fall is just around the corner and, in fact, Christmas will be here before we know it. The point of this sage comment was how time accelerates as you get older.
It makes sense when you think about it: when we’re little children, a year is one-fifth of our lives (when we’re five). But this person was sixty: that means a year is one-sixtieth of his life. Those “years” are a lot shorter than when we’re five.
In some ways, this passage of time is frustrating: it just moves too fast and gets faster and faster and faster. In other ways, this quickening passage of time offers solitude: it’s all going to move on no matter what happens.
The difference between these two perspectives is how you handle human existence and the point of all this so-called “life”.
As we continue our study of Ecclesiastes, we’re in Ecclesiastes 3:12-22. Solomon has finished talking about a time and season for everything (last week for us) and now continues:
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account. And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”
I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?”
Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Life, death, time, and eternity: these are the ‘ingredients’ that make up our brief experience in this world, and they must not be ignored.”
Indeed, they shouldn’t be ignored. Verse 15 offers great comfort found in the merry-go-round of life: it’s all been done before and God has been there too. When it time seems to run away from us, it is still under the complete sovereignty of God.
This certainly reminds us to live our days with joy—“this is the gift of God” (verse 13). God’s good purpose and plan marches forward through time unthwarted and unstoppable. The joy we can experience in this life is the one thing that will remain to the end of it.
When we are on our deathbeds, the memories of a life well spent will provide us pleasure like a warm blanket, comforting and assuring us. But this joy and positive reflection only results from the decision to follow in the ways of the Lord. Living life without Him is only foolishness and results in frustration, anger, and resentment. That kind of life produces a reflection we would find unbearable.
And this is Solomon’s point: to live godless produces far more questions than answers. It sets us up to only pursue earthly things. Ignoring the God who gave us breath only results in loss and meaninglessness.
As followers of Jesus, however, we look forward to the end of life. It means our journey is finished and we are “promoted” home. We don’t lose hope because our hope is not based here; it’s based “there”.
We can rest in His control, timing, and purposes:
they are good and they are absolute.
I think my friend is right: before you know it, it’ll be “next Christmas” and we’ll need to reflect what we did and what we’re doing with our fleeting years. Make the most of them starting today. Live for Him, smile more, laugh more, enjoy more—“this is the gift of God”.
 Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Satisfied, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 49.