Comments received by the Forest Service on registration sheets and comment cards by backpackers completing wilderness camping trips: "A small deer came into my camp and stole my bag of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call." "Escalators would help on steep uphill sections." "Instead of a permit system or regulations, the Forest Service needs to reduce worldwide population growth to limit the number of visitors to wilderness.” “Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands." "Ban walking sticks in wilderness. Hikers that use walking sticks are more likely to chase animals." "All the mile markers are missing this year." "Found a smoldering cigarette left by a horse." "Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill." "There are to many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests." "Please pave the trails so they can be plowed of snow in the winter." Chairlifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them." "The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals." "Reflectors need to be placed on trees every 50 feet so people can hike at night with flashlights." "Need more signs to keep area like new." "A McDonald’s would be nice at the trail head." "The places where trails do not exist are not well marked." "To many rocks in the mountains." It seems that some people are just never satisfied! They just aren’t satisfied with what they have. Christ came some two thousand years ago, to provide for us eternal life. And, unfortunately it seems as though some people are simply not satisfied with what God has done, even though He has given the very best. Have you found what you are looking for in life? As we prepare ourselves to enter another new year, look to Jesus Christ, for He is the only one that can satisfy the longings of your soul!
What are you pursuing in life?
Eccles. 1:2 2:20-21 5:13-15
A few years ago there was a song that you might be familiar with called “Gentle on My Mind.” It was sung by Glen Campbell. Do you remember it? In this song he relates a story about a man who longs to be free. What comes to your mind when you hear the word “FREE?” To do what you want to do with no restraints, to not have to please anyone in what you do, to have all the money and time that I need to do what I want to do, to not have to obey some of the laws that hinder the way I want to live, to not be tied down to a job and to not be in debt. Well in this song he tells about a life that is not messed up with an agreement that is binding or that is free of a lifetime obligation to a person or family. His song brings up the past that keeps “Gentle on His Mind.” He sings that he would like nothing in his life that would tie him down. He is looking for a back road that will give him satisfaction. Have you heard that message from others? In “Blue Highways” the author tells about his taking such a journey. He took a trip across America to find places where change did not mean ruin and time was not a big factor in life. He traveled to such places as Dime Box, TX, Scratch-Ankle, AL, Remote, OR, Nameless, TN, Whynot, MS, Igo, CA. He wanted to leave his life of thoughtlessness and meaninglessness to a quiet simple life. He came back home. Most of us have some time entertained thoughts of going down some back roads to get away from the fast paced life we experience. For some it is a vacation of a lifetime but they come to an end and we have to return home to the grinding of everyday life again. However we get away we try to escape what we think is the pain of everyday life.
1. Let us look at a man who had an opinion from his life.
There once was a man who had money, was young and full of energy and time. He was free to pursue because there was nothing or no one who could restrain what he wanted to do. He left a record of this for us to read. It is Ecclesiastes and his name Solomon of whom the Lord gave wisdom such as no other man has had. He starts by telling what his life has brought. It is my desire in this message and ones to follow to help you think about how important you are, that we mean something to ourselves, others and God. I know that if you feel good about yourself and with your relationship with others and God you will be a better person and you will make this world we live in a better place. I have an opinion that all of us have asked these questions: Why am I here? Does my life count? How do I make sense of everyday living?
This man Solomon took a journey with no restraints. Did you know that when he got done with his journey he felt unhappy, disappointed and let down? He had done much but his life was empty. God has placed in us three main functions: the will, the feelings and the thoughts. Our will has little power over our feelings. It is hard to say, “I am going to feel different” and then accomplish it by our willpower. Our feelings will follow our thoughts. The answer to have good feelings then comes by what we think or what we put in our thought life. “Count your blessings, name them one by one.”
Solomon saw much, discovered new things, attempted great feats and produced results, initiated new things he had not known in search of his significance. He was a king over a great kingdom and had more than any one had yet he did not find purpose in life.
In his search we are told it was limited to everything under the sun and under heaven. His search did not include looking above this earth. He found life to be dreary, miserable and hopelessly without significance. He left God out of his life and nothing would or could satisfy. It is in our life under the sun and on this earth that we can only find meaning as we get connected with God. Our lives remain empty and with little or no meaning if we let our search for life limited to this earth.
In this life we find there are deadlines to meet and there are responsibilities that some times overwhelm us. In fact there are times we would just like to run or get in a car and just drive off and try to find one of those back roads where life would be easy. People all around us are trying this in different ways. We see it in the soap opera on afternoon TV and even in prime time TV. Now let me stop here to point out that id you are spending a lot of time watching TV you are buying into this thinking. The reason I say this is because what you allow to come in your mind becomes a part of the way you live. Good feeling comes from what we put into our thought life.
2. We can choose to go along with the flow. Solomon tried very hard to find the meaning of life. He was unrestrained in his determination to find the purpose of life. a. He took time to pursue and explore life. Result 1:11 “We don’t remember what happened in those former times. And in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.” He starts off his record saying this but still goes on his search. He wanted something to satisfy.
a. He tried pleasure with no thought of expense. He had laughter, comedy, booze, sex, entertainment, self building projects, art, fun trips and other attempts to happiness. Result Ecc. 2:11, 17-18
b. He tried truth-seeking trips, fatalism and humanism. Result: 3:18-21 When we think in man’s way it only leads to confusion
c. He tried to make money his satisfaction. Results: Ecc. 5:10-11, 16 “He also says that all our work is a labor for the wind. How many of us have tried to stop the wind with our power? It can not be done and the wind really is worth nothing that we can eat or drink or wear. Pills can not do enough to help us cope with life. There are many stories of celebrities, entertainers, professional athletes and movies stars that will tell you their story of woe.
James Dobson writes that eve a straight life is drab; “The straight life for a homemaker is washing dishes three hours a day, cleaning sinks, scouring toilet, waxing floors, chasing toddlers and mediating fights between preschool siblings. The straight life is driving your station wagon to school and back 23 times a week; it is grocery shopping and baking cupcakes for the class party. The straight life eventually means becoming the parent of an ungrateful teenager, which I assure you, is no job for sissies. Certainly, the straight life for the homemaker can be an exhausting experience, at times. The straight life for a working man is not much simpler. It is pulling your tired frame out of bed, five days a week, 50 weeks out of the year. It is earning a 2 week vacation in August, and choosing a trip that will please your kids. The straight life is spending your money wisely when you’d rather indulge in a new whatever, it is taking your son bike riding on Saturday when you want so badly to watch the baseball game; it is cleaning out the garage on your day off after working 60 hours the week prior. The straight life is coping with head colds and engine tune-ups and crab grass and income-tax forms, it is taking your family to church on Sunday when you’ve heard every idea the minister has to offer, it is giving a portion of your income to God’s work when you already wonder how ends will meet. The straight life for the ordinary, garden variety husband and father is everything I have listed and much, much more.” This did not work out either because it still deals with what is in this world under the sun.
When Solomon comes to the end he comes to a conclusion in which he is saying, “Now listen to this closely.” Do you want your life to have meaning? Do you want a real purpose? Would you like to invest in something of eternal, everlasting results? Do you want real satisfaction in life? This will only come as you have an up-to-date relationship with God. It could be added that you believe in Jesus Christ and that you let the Holy Spirit be in control of your life. Ecc. 12:13-14 “
As I go around this town I find many who do not want this advice. They like the “Gentle on my mind” lifestyle. They do not want to face responsibility for what their life is here for.
I want to give out three warnings;
1. The physical attraction of something better tomorrow robs us of the joy we can find today.
2. The personal temptation to escape reality is much stronger in its influence than what will be the consequences.
3. What we desire without God will never satisfy.
Let us close by these words. We will never earn enough. We will never be satisfied with personal beauty no matter what we wear or put on our faces. Clothes will wear out. Cars will need repairs and upkeep. Houses will never be full enough. Food can be baked, fried, boiled, micro waved or eaten raw but it is still food and we need more the next day no matter how much we eat. Relationship no matter how loving still will have times with tension. Life can be filled with many activities and not be fulfilling.
IT IS ONLY WITH JESUS ALIVE AND ACTIVE IN OUR LIVES THAT WE CAN REALLY LIVE.