There was that day in her garden when I helped my aging mother a little too much. “Stop treating me like a doddering old fool!” she said. I had no idea back then what doddering meant. I looked it up. Feeble. Senile. Mom was neither of those things, but my thirty-something self had noticed that her sixty-something hands looked old. Instead of working in her garden all day, she enjoyed resting there soaking up her surroundings and talking with God. She talked with God a lot. Doddering? No. But Mom had changed. Her youthful days of analyzing thoughts and reaching for dreams had given way to a settled, wise maturity.
I wouldn’t understand her transformation until I reached the age when others might treat me like a doddering old fool. I’m there now. I’ve become my aging mother, and I understand.
When I was in my thirties I sometimes rode the Amtrak train to Chicago. As my train sped toward the city, other trains raced past going the opposite direction. They materialized as a split-second blur of shadow and light and then they disappeared. The trains were a lot like my thirty-something thoughts. Questions and concerns raced by: Who am I? Where am I going? Who do I want to be? Why are relationships hard? Why is life tough? What if? . . .
I understand now that all of those worries were meaningless.
An aging man named Solomon wrote The Book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon was neither doddering nor a fool. He was a wise king, and Ecclesiastes is his story about wisdom. It begins with a man pondering thirty-something questions. Nothing in his world gives him a sense of meaning or peace. But, by the end of the book the man has become transformed and settled—much the way my mother had become. He had reached the wise realization that life rushes by and that happiness does not come from worldly things. It comes from focusing on God, trusting His plan, and accepting His will.
Life taunts youth with temporary diversions that have no long-term meaning. In the end, they are all irrelevant.
Maybe you are still in that youthful place of learning. If so, you can’t possibly understand how wise you will become by the time your children think of you as a doddering old fool. Take a few minutes today to read Ecclesiastes. Then keep Solomon’s words in your heart. Focus on God, your Teacher. Follow Him and trust Him. You are on an amazing journey toward wisdom. Life rushes by, and you will reach your destination sooner than you think.
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