After four weeks of sorting, packing and moving boxes and household items, I am delighted to say that I have finally moved into my new accommodation. This exercise was a vivid reminder that I had collected so much “stuff” which I haven’t used for a year or more and probably would NEVER use.
My mind went back to when I was living in Moscow, for three years in 1992, 1993 and 1994. I clearly remember how I survived quite happily with very little in items of personal and household items.
While in Moscow I met a young man who was a doctor from the Ural Mountains. He attended one of my bible study classes as many young Russians were desperate to improve their English skills by having conversations with a native English speaker. He was also keen to learn more about the bible as he had grown up under the atheist communist regime which declared that there was no God and had destroyed the interior of every church and turned them into museums of evolution.
I was thrilled when, after many months of English lessons and bible study discussions my young doctor friend decided that God’s word was indeed true and he made a decision to become a Christian. He used to visit me regularly when he came to Moscow and I remember one time when I felt so humbled by his gift of a pineapple which he had bought at the markets.
He knew that I had been quite sick and he wanted the pineapple to help me recover. To a Queenslander that may not seem to be special but it was such an act of kindness and a sacrifice as he had paid US $18 (which was equivalent to about a month’s salary) for this piece of fruit and to add to this, the pineapple was over ripe and almost inedible!
My huge move and the reminder that I don’t need to have so many material possessions prompted me to reflect on the passage of scripture which was the catalyst for my young doctor friend’s decision to serve God.
There are so many powerful scriptures which I had shared with him but the passage which really spoke to him and allowed the Holy Spirit to convict him of his need to know God was Ecclesiastes 1:1-11
Everything Is Meaningless
1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
3 What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.
Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 (NIV)
So as we embark on a new term, may we remember that sometimes the things we collect and value are not nearly as important as we think. In fact they are often meaningless.
May we have the wisdom to know what things in life have real meaning.
Cheryl Bryers, Head of Primary