It is a question of age. I look old, but I do not feel old. I still want to look for new possibilities, but time is running out. The biological clock is now at 8:00 pm. The end of life is coming quicker than we could possibly think. In time God will call me home.
So I raise the question always about what I have done to make a difference. I feel like Solomon in Chapter 1 of Ecclesiastes. Solomon in Ecclesiastes questions all of his accumulated wealth. In his old age, he is tired, almost pessimistic. Unlike Solomon, I don’t have much in accumulated wealth. He had a harem and concubines. I rarely got past the “friend” factor with any woman.
I do question everything these days. Like Solomon, as I near my retirement, I spend a lot of time looking back. Solomon questions work. I question work. Solomon questions living wisely. I question whether I am wise enough.
I live in a world that is much different from Solomon’s. If I were anything like Solomon, I would be some kind of corporate executive or powerful Wall Street Financier. I might have even served a term as President of the United States with all other world leaders looking to me for advice. I am none of that. I am just Andrew Plath.
A long time ago I thought of getting a graduate degree in urban planning, but I never acted on it. As look right now, it is funny, but I sit on committees with professional planners. I connect with many of the consultants that the City of Wausau has hired for bicycle and pedestrian projects. I am proud of that even though I have only played a small part in some very big pictures. I look at things like Wausau’s River Edge Trailway, the River Life District and the growing size of Wausau’s arts community and I smile.
Solomon did a lot to move the kingdom of Israel forward. But he squandered resources. He was blessed with wisdom. He built a temple to be the earthly home of God. Kings and rulers of other nations sought the wisdom of Solomon. He would lose it all and the Kingdom of Israel would be divided forever and later Israel and Judah would be conquered but Judah would survive.
Solomon raises questions in with what is happened in his life. “17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 2:17.
I try not to look back on the jobs that I did or the degrees that I earned as being a waste of my time. God wanted me to go to the schools that I chose to attend and to take on the jobs that I have held because he knew that I would grow from those experiences.
I never had a heart attack, but I have endured heartache because a woman that I loved just did not see me in the same light. I grew a lot from that experience and it was painful. Sometimes growing means pain. We all need to have heartache once in a while.
Unlike King Solomon, I have mixed feelings about my past. Like him, I question what could have been different. Could I have done better? I am sure. Have I made a difference?
“A good name is better than precious ointment, the day of death than the day of birth.” I work hard to keep a good name, and I work hard to keep the name of my community in the good.
Solomon was rich beyond all possibilities. He was the wealthiest monarch of his day. Today he might have been an Arab sheik. Or even a wealthy financier. Me not so. I have a good house to live in and, yes, I do have debts albeit well managed as best as I can. I am a far cry in a different position than His Majesty. I might even have to earn money after I retire from my present job.
Yet, sadly after his passing, his kingdom would start to fall apart. The northern kingdom would secede from the southern kingdom and the two would be Israel and Judah would eventually be conquered by the growing regional powers of the day and would lose their independence for their national sins. Some legacy.
But his real legacy was in the wisdom that he passed on through the generations. He was the writer of three books of the Old Testament including Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are his books of wisdom and guidance. The Song of Solomon is used in marriage encounters to help couples renew the fire of romance and encourage a deeper love in their relationships. So Solomon has gained some redemption.
Will that be for me? Maybe. Maybe not. I need to work today to make a difference in the lives of people. God knows the time for everything. I need to trust in him.