World Literature was one of my favorite courses in college. My teacher was a wonderful woman with insight, a bit of a Maya Angelou-type I thought. She drew wisdom from her life, from the stories she read and taught, and challenged us to look beyond the contemporary writers and the “fluff” fiction that seemed so popular.
We read Dostoyevsky and Dante, studied Japanese poetry, and writers of the Elizabethan era. One of the works we studied was the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. It was not being read from a religious point of view, but from a poetic one. I had never encountered the Bible from anything other than fire and brimstone. As a new believer, I was intrigued to look at the Bible in a different way. And we did.
We studied literary devices and discussed why the writer may have chosen certain words to express his point of view. There were so many times I would underline a verse or phrase because of the lyrical style and the imagery I found in the words. I was falling in love with the Word of God and I had not even realized it.
When we came to the end of Ecclesiastes, my teacher turned to us and began to recite the last chapter from memory. Hearing these words, long dusty, come to life helped me hear the call of my Heavenly Father once again.
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
The whole duty of man? It reminded me of Micah 6:8, And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
I noted in my Bible, “Fear God- put Him in His proper place. We cannot create our significance- God says, ‘I know you! You and your ever-living-never-dying-souls.’ Isaiah 43:1b, Fear not for I have redeemed you… The question is- Is God pleased? For He is the source of everything.”
The final thing about our lives, our souls, our very existence, comes to this – we were made by God, for God, His purposes, His joy, and His glory. When we offer our lives back to Him with this point of view, we will find the truth in the words of Ecclesiastes 3:11; He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
I may not understand all of what God has done or what God is going to do. What I do understand is that seeking Him first, while I am drawing breath, is the most important part of my faith journey. Best Beloved, what are you seeking first? Will the first thing you seek be the last thing you need in life?
Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments,” (Matthew 22:37-40).
And so they do. May it be the final thing we are doing when we are called home.