12-13 Even though a person sins and gets by with it hundreds of times throughout a long life, I'm still convinced that the good life is reserved for the person who fears God, who lives reverently in his presence, and that the evil person will not experience a "good" life. No matter how many days he lives, they'll all be as flat and colorless as a shadow—because he doesn't fear God.
(Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 The Message)
The Good Life - how many times have we said it or heard it said by another - "Aah...this is the GOOD life!" We are kicking back on the beach, enjoying the rays, listening to the palms fronds rattling in the wind, and then we utter these words of absolute contentment! The next thing you know, a gust of wind blows away your umbrella, a happy-go-lucky child throws sand on you, and the sun drifts behind the clouds! What happened to your "contentment" in that moment? Ummm....honestly....it was no longer the "good life"!
Our passage today deals quite honestly with our impression of what a "good life" really is. We get our focus a little misdirected at times - giving us a warped perception of reality. You see, the wind was always there, the clouds were passing over as we uttered those words of contentment, and the child had been working on that sand castle for hours! We just failed to see what was right before our eyes! Those who have followed my posts for a while know that I often bring us back to our "perceptions" of things - because perception often determines reality in our minds!
Look at the verses again. The passage sets out a lifestyle of sin against a lifestyle of reverence for God. The "good life" is really based on something entirely differently than we often imagine. In fact, rarely do I hear anyone describe the good life as serving God first, being less focused on self, and being an obedient steward of the grace God has given in their life! Yet, it is not what we "get by with" in life that makes life great - it is in the fact that we get "nearer" to God that makes it truly great! In fact, a life without God is "colorless as a shadow" and "flat"!
I thought about that a little - it takes the sun to cast a shadow! The more "face-on" you to the sun, the longer your shadow. Let me make this clear - the more face-on you to the Son of God (Jesus), the longer the shadow! In other words, you reflect his greatness in your life! It takes the light to realize the "color" in our world. In the darkness, color is really meaningless. You can be standing smack-dab in the middle of a room filled with vividly paint walls, richly upholstered furnishings in dynamic colors of the rainbow, but without the light in the room, those colors mean nothing! It takes the "light of Life" (Christ) to fill our days with color.
There is another side to this passage that I just cannot glance over as it brings conviction to my heart as I read it. The idea is that we may "think" we get by with stuff (not always good stuff either), perhaps hundred of times, but nothing escapes God's view. That means that even though we don't "get caught" in our sin, he knows it is still there. There is nothing we can hide from him. Want color and light in your life - get honest with God and then enjoy the Son-shine!