Summary: This sermon indicates that neither success, pleasure or money will satisfy us in life. Godliness is the only thing which will bring contentment.
Where Does It End?
GNLCC 5/6/2001 Eccesiastes 2:1-11 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19
Before you decide to jump on a bus, a train, or a plane it is a good idea to know where the thing is going to stop. I had graduated from a school in a small town in upstate New York. There were no subways or city buses. I went to New York City with a college roommate from the Bronx in New York City. I had relatives in Manhattan. My friend took me from the Grey hound bus station to the stop on the train where my family lived. I told him I would come to see him at his house in the Bronx on the next day.
The next day I got on the subway headed for my friend’s house at 11 am. I stepped on the subway confidently heading uptown to the Bronx. But I did not know that all the trains going to the Bronx were not going to the same place. I got on with the greatest confidence, that I was going in the right direction. I rode in underground NYC for four hours. Stop after stop I sat hopelessly lost. I don’t know if I was too scared or too proud to ask for help. The train finally came to a stop and there was nobody on it but me. It was the end of the line so I had to get off. I finally went to find some police who showed me how to read a subway map to get to where I needed to go. Getting on the wrong train greatly delayed my arrival.
We are all traveling today on some particular path in this thing we call life. Have you ever asked yourself, “Am I going in the right direction.” Sometimes, just because it feels good, does not necessarily mean its right, even when others are cheering for us in the process. There was a professional football game played in the 70’s involving the Minnesota Viking’s played named Jim Marshall. He was an awesome player and was one of the Purple People Eaters.
In one game, the other team passed the ball, but Jim Marshall caught it and headed for the end zone. He ran that ball for almost 70 yards and was feeling good about it all the way. The crowds were going wild His own team was jumping up and down waving at him. Even though he was big lineman, nobody on the other team was able to catch him. The closer he got to the goal line, the better he felt inside.
Finally he crossed the goal line and scored. When he turned around to be congratulated, he noticed that only the other team was jumping up and down. His moment of triumph was turn into humiliation and embarrassment when he realized he had run to the wrong goal line and scored points for the other team. He ran a great run, but it did not help him in the end.
Most of us here are running trying to score a touchdown out their in the land of contentment or of happiness. We want to have need of nothing. We want to feel complete, sufficient and satisfied. We want to have enough to make us happy. Therefore, just like Jim Marshall, we are running with all the energy we can muster. We believe when we get there, oh what a feeling it’s going to be.
For some of us, we think that contentment in life comes when we are finally successful at whatever it is we do. When I get my degree, when I get that position, when I get married, when I get my kids through college, then I’m going to be content. When I finally build my new home, when I get that championship trophy, or when I get my business going then I’ll be content.
There was someone who could say , “been there and done that.” King Solomon looked for contentment in being successful. So he built beautiful homes for himself, he designed magnificent parks and gardens, and he was glad to be doing these awesome things. There was some joy in doing these activities while they were taking place, but then when the task was finished he realized his success had not delivered what he thought it would.
Our society builds up the super bowl in football as though it is the ultimate in the achievement in the athletic world. After winning two super bowls, a reporter asked the quarterback on the winning team, “How do you feel with two super bowl rings.” The quarterback responded, “is this all there is.” Success can look a lot more glamorous from the outside looking at it, then from the inside have experienced it. The journey can be a pleasure, but the destination may leave a sense of emptiness. If success is your main goal, you may find yourself disappointed at the goal line. Success can be absolutely wonderful until you get it. The success feeling is much more difficult to hold on to it, than it is to get it in the first place.