River in the Sand



Ecclesiastes 1:1

Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full (v.7).


With our swimsuits on and the sand between our toes, my family and I decided to try a beach experiment. We picked a spot about 20 feet from the shoreline and set to work digging with plastic spades. Our goal was to hollow out a mini riverbed that would extend all the way back down to the sea. After some effort, we tested it by filling buckets with water and then pouring the contents into our man made trench. We cheered as the water snaked down the beach, flowing back to its origin.

As we trudged back to our car I thought about the pointless nature of our sand-excavating exercise. Sure it was fun, but it reminded me of this verse: “Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full” (Ecclesiastes 1:7). This observation is one of several related thoughts—courtesy of King Solomon—on the topic of futility. In fact he began the book of Ecclesiastes by announcing, “Everything is meaningless” (v.2).

Although Solomon concluded something quite different at the end of the book, many people today agree with his initial thoughts. Some believe in a kind of ‘choose your own adventure’ existence where each of us creates meaning within our own lives, with no objective standard to guide us. These people find their ultimate purpose in family life, in work or in devotion to a cause.

While these things produce some fulfillment, they all relate only to life “under the sun” (v.9). As Christians, we know that this life is not all there is, and our purpose here is linked to eternity in another place. Solomon concluded that we should “Fear God and obey His commands” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). This is what gives meaning to our lives. This is what endures beyond the shifting sands of earth.

—Jennifer Benson Schuldt




Read Ecclesiastes 2:1 to see the relationship between pleasure and meaning in life. Read 1 Timothy 1:4 to see how even Christians can become involved in meaningless pursuits.



Where do you find meaning in life? How does a life lived for the here and now look different from a life lived for eternity’s sake?


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