The Empty Highway

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. ‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? – Ecclesiastes 1:1-3.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. – Ecclesiastes 12:13.

North Korea has carved the four-lane “Reunification Road” through the mountains and deep gorges. It was built at great expense in money and in human life. An interesting feature of the highway is the almost total absence of traffic. The vehicles that do travel the road besides bicycles are mostly army vehicles and those are in sad shape. There are more vehicles in the capitol of Pyongyang but still the traffic is a long way from becoming a traffic jam. An interpreter for a journalist said, “Recently we began producing our own cars in Korea in the city of Nampo. They are called Hwiparam – it means ‘whistle’ in Korean.” The Journalists asks her to point out one of these new cars the next time she sees one. But she replies, “I’ve only seen it on television.”

Some reaching the end of their lives see the paths they have traveled which were built with great expense. But the pathways they traveled are empty of life and meaning. They wonder what was the purpose of such a life of emptiness? Why did they travel that way and why did they travel this way? How they ask did they arrive at the end of their lives with so little of any importance when they contemplate the eternity ahead? How did they end up like this?

Solomon too struggled to find meaning in life even with the great wisdom he had been given by God. He strived to find meaning in a wide variety of endeavors and activities. You can feel his frustration through one translation of Ecclesiastes 1:2 which translates the verse in this way, “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’ 

Although Solomon traveled down many expensive empty highways in his life it is thought that toward the end of life he came to his senses. In the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon sums it all up by saying, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Solomon came to the conclusion that in order to have meaning and purpose in life that God had to be included in the equation. A life devoid of the presence of God results in an expensive highway with very little meaning. But a life filled with the presence of God results in traveling paths that bring great joy, meaning, satisfaction, and eternal purpose into our lives.

What kind of highway have you been building?

(What roads are you building with your life?)

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