Summary: This message was for the funeral of a older woman who found success in life, but rediscovered what was missing late in life -- a relationship with her Creator.
It is a pleasure to hear your personal thoughts and memories of Ms. Olean. I must admit, I did not know her well. I only became acquainted with her on the few Sundays that she has attended church here with her daughter, Yvette.
She was already older, and had lost much of the vitality of her youth. Her body was well into the process of failing her. Given her situation, I believe she could have related to this text.
Ecclesiastes 11:8-10 (NLT)
8 When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless.
9 Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. 10 So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 12:1-7, 13-14 (NLT)
1 Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” 2 Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky. 3 Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop. Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly. 4 Remember him before the door to life’s opportunities is closed and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first chirping of the birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint. 5 Remember him before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets; before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom, and you drag along without energy like a dying grasshopper, and the caperberry no longer inspires sexual desire. Remember him before you near the grave, your everlasting home, when the mourners will weep at your funeral.
6 Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. 7 For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
13 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. 14 God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.
I do not plan to speak long. I have just a couple of points to make. But I would guess that they would express what Ms. Olean would want us to hear from this text. She would want us to hear it because it was some wisdom that she discovered when it was getting late, and she would like us to get it right early on.
Ecclesiastes is written through the eyes of a young man receiving instruction from his teachers. Solomon is the pen of the teacher as he reflects back on his life, a life that many would say was blessed ... attributed with the title of the “Wisest Man In All the World” … a life of riches, position, popularity and pleasure. Yet, his assessment of it all was that it was meaningless. He had spent his life chasing vanishing dreams, and paper moons, only to realize they did not fill the hunger that continued within him.
Why? … Because as he is getting older, his body has begun to fail him. His arms and legs are no longer as strong as they once were. His eye sight had begun to fade, and his hearing was not as sharp as it once was. As he sees his body failing , he remembers that through it all he had forgotten an important lesson from his youth. “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.”
Ms. Olean knew about her Creator in the days of her youth. She, also, wanted to make sure that her daughters knew about him too because she made sure that they got to church, with or without her. Yet, mostly without because cultivating that relationship was not a priority for her at the time. She had dreams, and goals, and ambitions that had a greater priority for her in the moment.
We all, throughout our lives, feel that pull to chase our youthful dreams. They may be fantasies of prosperity, popularity, power, prestige, property and possessions, or, even more plainly, pleasure, and we fill our thoughts, our days, our energy, our jobs, our families, or even our beds with those pursuits … those things which we feel will make us more complete. But an uncertain hollowness remains.