What Is It? : My Way
October 06, 2019
By Ed Young
VIDEO: Frank Sinatra singing “My Way”.
That’s the song that I like to sing, and that’s a song that you like to sing as well. I Did It My Way. I do it my way. Have you ever thought about the fact that when you reach a goal, when you reach it, that it isn’t always it? If I can make that amount of money, surely that will be it. Finally, you work, and you strive, and you make that amount of money, and you go, “It isn’t it.”
Maybe you’re single and you think, “Okay, when I get married, that will be it.” Those of us who are married know that … It’s okay to laugh. Marriage isn’t it. “Oh, that’s my dream car, or my dream house. If I drive that or live there, that surely will be it.” I’m here to tell you, that’s not it.
Maybe if I seek that buzz, or that high, or that sexual hit, that will be it. “No, that’s not it,” you say.
We’re beginning a study through the book of Ecclesiastes, and the book of Ecclesiastes means one who preaches. It’s written by someone who is the most well-qualified person imaginable to write a book about it. This is a book about life, how to live it and how not to live it. What is it, and what isn’t it? That’s the drive of this book.
Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, and Solomon, man, what a background. He was a member of the lucky sperm and egg club, the lucky conception club. His father was King David. Grew up in amazing abundance. David told him on his deathbed what to do. He was the King, like his father was the King. David said, “Solomon, I want you to follow the Lord and seek him,” and Solomon was like, “All right, all right.”
Solomon was mentored by Nathan the prophet. Nathan was the guy that got up in Solomon’s father’s grill, David, when David was messing around with Bathsheba, and Solomon was a child of that elicit relationship.
One of the most brilliant people who ever lived, Solomon, he wrote 3,010 Proverbs. He wrote 1,003 songs. People would come from all over the world to listen to him speak. He was indeed the solo-man. He was indeed the guy that, “I did it my way.” He was the guy that had the juice, the sauce to curl his toes over the diving board of life and go, “I’m going to do what I’m going to do. I’m going to chase it!”
His wealth would embarrass Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates. His wisdom would overshadow anyone like Stephen Hawkins or some of the other great thinkers of the day, Plato or Aristotle. He had that IT factor. Solomon, solo man. He had IT.
He begins this book, and isn’t this cool that we can read his journal? This is his journal about his inner most thoughts and wishes. I’ve journaled for a long time, but I mean I would feel a little bit weird handing my journals to everyone. I have nothing to hide, but, “Here’s my journal.” “Really, Ed? You were struggling with that? Really? You thought that was going to be it.”
Solomon writes this book called Ecclesiastes. On one hand, this book is cynical. Yet on the other hand, it’s significant. On one hand is depressing, a doggy downer. On the other, it’s dynamic. You’ll see a phrase recurring over and over in the writings of Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, under the sun. Say that with me. Under the sun. Under the sun refers to life like this is it, just this is it. Kind of a nihilistic approach, an existential mentality. This is it. It is what it is.
Above the sun living is from an eternal perspective. It’s from God’s perspective above the sun. We’re going to find out when we connect above the sun living with under the sun living, we’ll live like this isn’t it because we’ll know the it, which is a personal relationship with the Lord.
Solomon, solo man. He starts his writings off in a very peculiar way, and again we’re going to unpack this over the next several weeks. He says in Ecclesiastes 1:2 … I mean, can you imagine reading a book by an author who says, “I ain’t got nothing to say, man.” That’s what he said. “I’ve got nothing.” Ecclesiastes 1:2, “‘Meaningless, meaningless,’ says the teacher, ‘Utterly meaningless. Everything is meaningless.'” Wow! When I read that verse, I’m like, “You mean I’m going to have to trudge through every verse? I mean he has nothing to say?” Like, I don’t have anything. Well, Ecclesiastes 1:9 he says, “What has been will be again. What has been done will be done again; There is…” say it with me, “nothing new under the sun.”
Solomon was the most ignorantly intellectual person ever. Have you ever known a wise fool? Solomon’s shadow of significance throughout the pages of scripture and life was all about being foolish and wise at the same time. What would it be like, I’m just fantasizing, to do whatever you wanted to do? What would it be like, I mean just to go for it? A no holds barred existence. You’ve thought that, so have I. I mean to live like this is it.
Solomon went after possessions like no one here will have possessions. His house was 60 feet taller and 80 feet wider than the temple. It was overlaid in gold. Ladies, some of the precious stones in the house were 20 feet high. That’s his house. He had over 40,000 horse stables, and I’ve seen some of the ruins in Israel. 40,000! How about the amount of hay and … he had to clean up.
He had 700 concubines. Most scholars believe 700 to 1,000 wives. Can you imagine when their birthdays rolled around? “It’s my birthday week, Solomon.” They moved into his new house. “Oh, this is my dream house.” Can you imagine the drama and the trauma? Exotic women from around the world. He had gold and silver. He had wisdom.
Sigmund Freud, the father of modern sychology, said, “Life is about pleasure.” That’s what Freud said. Alfred Adler said, “No, no, no. Life is about purpose.” Viktor Frankl said, “No, no, no. It’s about power.” These great thinkers said that. Well, they said that. They might have observed that. Solomon lived it! Solomon’s going to tell us no one, listen to me, nobody has life figured out. You can’t do it. I can’t do it. You’re not going to figure it out.
I mean, just in my own life as a pastor, one moment someone’s crying over a death. They’re devastated, going through grief. The next moment, they’re calling me is celebrating the birth of twins. One moment, there’s peace, oh yeah, in all your relationships. The next moment, all hell is breaking loose. You finally closed that deal, you make a little bit of money, and then, “I’ve got to pay that much in taxes?”
No one, I’ll say it again, no one will ever have life figured out under the sun. Freud didn’t. Adler didn’t. Frankl didn’t. Stephen Hawking didn’t. Plato didn’t. Aristotle didn’t. No one. You’re not going to figure it out.
What do you do? I mean, why are we incarcerated on this blue planet spinning into nowhere? Whoa, whoa, whoa. Maybe God made it this way to force us to him. Maybe just maybe your search for significance, your search for the it to fill that hole in your soul is a God search. In reality, maybe just maybe, you’re searching for that relationship above the sun. Because again, Solomon’s going to say, “Hey, live life to its fullest. Go for it!” But it starts above the sun when you connect above the sun to below the sun.
Okay, let’s read his thesis, because this will really set us up for the next portion of this study. Isn’t this a cool book? It’s unbelievable. I love it. Ecclesiastes 2:1- 11, “I said to myself,” this is Solomon talking. Again, the best qualified guy in the world to write a book about searching. “‘I’ll test you with pleasure to find out what’s good.’ But that also proved to be meaningless. ‘Laughter’, he said, “That’s madness. It’s crazy.” Oh, I love this. Verse 3, “I tried cheering myself up with wine,” As I’ve studied the history of Solomon, he would have his crew, because they didn’t have ice makers back in the day, to hike up in the mountains to bring back icicles to chill his margaritas and mojitos. I made margaritas and mojitos up, but to chill his wine and his adult beverages. That’s some serious money, isn’t it?
He tried all that, the buzz, the high, getting drunk. It’s meaningless, he said. It’s just the same. I mean really, what’s new out there? Is there anything new? Let me say it again. What’s new? A sexual hit’s a sexual hit. A buzz is a buzz. Fame is fame. Money is money. Is there anything new? Nope. Nope.
Yeah. We live like, “Oh this is it!” I mean, I’m just going to chase after it, and Solomon says, “Don’t do it. Take a page out of my playbook and read.”
Then he says in verse 3, his mind was still guiding him with wisdom. Of course, he’s a genius IQ guy. Then verse 4, skip down. Let me skim, because I only have nine minutes and 10 seconds left. “I undertook great projects.” He built stuff, just built, and built, and built. Park, and he built lakes, and he had exotic fish, and again, as I said, all the stables, and animals, and everything else. He says, verse 7, “I bought male and female slaves.” Then he says, “I amassed silver and gold for,” there it is, ” for myself.” Hashtag blessed. In today’s culture, you can go on social media and brag, and brag, and brag. As long as you put hashtag blessed, I guess you’re not bragging, right? That’s what I do. “I acquired male and female singers,” I love this. He didn’t say like, “Alexa, play Beyonce!” No, he didn’t say that. He just said, “Beyonce, sing!” She was there. “Garth, sing! I need to be motivated. Jay Z!” But seriously, he had choirs to put him to sleep. Read about him. Choirs to wake him up. Other singers to motivate him. Ridiculous. Again, you’re not going to be able to do this, nor am I. It’s so cool this is in the Bible.
Oh, he says he acquired a harem as well. I mean, his harem would make The Bachelor television shows seem I mean like just pathetic. He went after everything. Verse 10, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.” We’re going to talk about that. Verse 11, “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless,” Say it with me, “a chasing after the wind.” You can’t grab the wind. Then, “nothing was gained,” say it with me again, “under the sun.”
When I was nine years old, I bought a gerbil. Gerbils are sort of demonic creatures. They start out cute and cuddly, but when they go through puberty, man, they’ll bite the living fool out of you. You might not believe me, but the ones I’ve had, they’re evil. We had one, and my brother, my younger brother named him a full name. He named the gerbil Jim Harkins, because he had a friend named Jim Harkins. We had a really cool cage for Jim Harkins, a wire cage, and we had it on a television tray, a TV tray back in the back in the day. It was in our bedroom. We had cedar shavings on the floor of this little cage, and we had a little water. Jim would drink water. We’d feed him. He loved eating. Jim began to eat and eat, and he really became overweight. I’m thinking, “What do we do? Keto? Paleo?” I don’t know. I don’t know if you realize it or not, but I invented paleo and keto. A lot of people don’t know that. When I was nine years old. We thought, “What do we do?” We heard about this gerbil treadmill. We went to Kmart, which was like the store back where I grew up in, and bought him a little gerbil treadmill, brought it home. Jim loved that treadmill. I’m telling you what, he would jump on that thing. It’s like he knew he needed cardio. We would hear that thing, 2:00 AM. Our beagle Barney, God bless him. Barney would just sit there and watch Jim, salivating. Well, Jim, his little gerbil brain thought he was really going somewhere. He thought, “Man, I’m running. I’m going so fast! I’m running mile after mile,” but when he got off, he was stuck with the same cedar shavings.
I’m afraid that’s what I’ve done and what you’ve done. We’ve jumped on that little treadmill. “Oh man, we’re burning it, man, with our career, with our relationships, with money, and with pleasure. Oh, man, I’m going somewhere. This is going to be it! This is going to be it!” We jump off and we’re right back where we started from, just standing and messing around in all those cedar shavings.
That’s why Solomon is say, “Let me help a brother out. Don’t waste your time, and energy, and effort. Realize it is this relationship with God above the sun, living an eternal perspective, and then you have that perspective on pleasure, and power and possessions, and things.” You see? It’s not that these are bad, but in and of themselves, if we think like that’s it away from God, we’re going to come to the same conclusion that Solomon did. It’s absurdity.
So what did Solomon do? What did he say in this overview of Ecclesiastes that we’re doing in this first session? Here’s what he said. He said, “There’s a time for everything,” in Ecclesiastes 3:1, and this is probably the most popular chapter in Ecclesiastes. “There’s a time for everything.” You know, the Bible says there’s a time for dying, a time for living, a time for the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl. Is said all sorts of things, a time, a time, a time.
Solo man was saying, we’re locked into time and space. We can’t get out, as I talked about earlier. We’re locked into it. We’re limited. We try all these things to escape, but we’re still standing in that cage with cedar shavings. Again, God has designed it this way so it will draw us to him. But see, within this we have to make the choice.
Then he says in Ecclesiastes 3:11- 12 (NIV-1984), it says, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; Yet they cannot fathom,” and I’ll talk about this later. We can’t understand what God has done from beginning to end. I’m sorry. You’re just not that smart. Nor am I. Not even Solomon.
So at the end, here’s what he said, and then we’ll cruise. Ecclesiastes 12:1 (GWT), here’s what Solomon said. Let’s say it together. “Remember your Creator when you’re young,” How great is that? So if you’re old, I mean it’s great to give your heart to the Lord, but you ain’t got much to give, man. Lot of these old people, “Yeah, I want to give my heart to Jesus now.” Yeah, I mean great, but what do you got left, my brother?
40 years of age was the line of demarcation in scripture. If you were over 40, you were considered kind of on the downhill path. Those of us here who are under 40 like me, this is for us. No, no, seriously, seriously. Give your heart to Jesus now. Now. You don’t have to waste time. Time is short. I mean the here and now becomes the there and was very rapidly. You don’t have time. Give your heart to the Lord now, because you’ll connect above the sun living with under the sun living, and you’ll have that meaning, and purpose, and power. Then you’ll go, “This is it.”
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this message. I pray if there’s someone here and you’ve never, ever, ever given your life to Jesus, that you would pray and say, “Jesus, I give my all to you.” Just say that. “I believe you died on the cross for my sins and rose again. I give my life to you.”
Others here, maybe we’ve been tempted like Solomon was to curl our toes over the diving board of life, and we just thought and lived like this is it. This is not it. Father, we thank you for your love. We thank you for your grace. We thank you for your mercy. We ask all these things in the name that’s above every name, Jesus Christ our living Lord, and everyone said amen.