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SOUL HUNGER

whirlpool-art It’s been wonderful to see the Spirit moving in your lives, bringing transformation. I am so blessed by the readers and the participants on this blog. I want to continue in the same theme as Hearts of Flesh, going even deeper. We’re going to begin by looking at our voracious soul appetite, and then when the holy season of Lent begins (something that high liturgical churches have taught me to appreciate) in two weeks, we will look not only at the deceitfulness and futility of our idols, but at our TRUE LOVER, the only one who can free a woman of idolatry, which is what, if we are honest, we all are. Idols cannot be removed, only replaced, because our soul hunger is not going to go away.

This week would be a great week to jump in. I’d also like you to pray about inviting others to jump in, especially when Lent begins in two weeks.

Take a question a day or more if you like. I love the women who have been participating, and pray for them. If you are new, I think you will find them very embracing, so you don’t need to be fearful that they are too close and will not welcome you. They will!

Song to go with this week’s theme: Jesus Calls Us (One U-Tube version puts the lyrics over a while restless sea) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYIQw8w2TEw


Bible Study:

1. Meditate on this verse from Ecclesiastes 3:11:

hole-in-heartHe has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (NIV)

A. What has God set in the human heart?

B.  What does this mean?

C. Pascal called it a “God-shaped vacuum,”  which reminds me of the whirlpool analogy. What does a vacuum, and a whirlpool have in common?

D. How has your soul been like a whirlpool? What have you devoured in an attempt to feed your soul hunger? Be specific, please — and tell the results too.

D. What mystery do you see in Ecclesiastes 3:11?

2. Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, felt this vacuum in his soul and couldn’t imagine how to fill it. He felt pain, boredom, and a longing for relief. Find phrases that describe this in Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1::1-11.

3. Then he goes on a pursuit to try to fill this hole. List both the ways he tried to fill it and how he felt when his “whirlpool” sucked up these things in each of the following passages:

A. What did his soul hunger try to feed on and how did he feel in 1:13-18. (This is not godly wisdom, but “under the sun” or worldly wisdom)

B. What did his soul hunger try to feed on and how did he feel in Ecclesiastes 2:1-2l?

C. He continues to embrace worldly wisdom and wine, but adds to his quest in Ecclesiastes 2:3-11. If a phrase jumps out at you, the Spirit may be quickening you, so slow down, turn it over, and see if God is speaking to you. List your discoveries and meditations here.

4. This is such a fascinating book — one of my favorite studyguides I’ve done is A Woman of Contentment that contains T. M. Moore’s wonderful contemporary paraphrase of Ecclesiastes.  Here are a few phrases from that paraphrase. Meditate and comment on each:

Amazingly, he was able to keep the iambic pentameter rhyme, so it needs to be read like that, aloud:

A. Ecclesiastes 1:4

What does a man retain beyound the grave

from all the work in which he, like a slave,

consumes his days, as though this early life

were all there is? What’s left from all this strife

and struggle?

B. Ecclesiastes 1:14

I could not be content to stay

within the orbit of his love. Instead

I set a course — but now I am ahead

of where I meant to be. Suffice it here

to say that if this earthly life is dear

to us above all else, that is, if we

deny heaven’s claims upon our lives and see

ourselves as beings of this space in time

and nothing more, then neither things sublime

nor silly will cohere or satisfy,

I’ve tried it all, my son, I will deny

it not. And it is vain, I tell you, vain!

Like feeding on the wind.

5. What is your take–a-way this week?

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113 comments

  1. the holes in our hearts were never meant to be filled by earthly things. We try so hard to fill them on our own. We expect our parents to fill it, then friends, perhaps drugs or alcohol, good grades, achievements, degrees…then we get married and woe to the spouse who can not fill our hole, then we have children and think, now they are going to fill our hole!

    but alas, it is still empty and we have sucked everyone around us into the great darkness of our unfulfilled expectations.

    When will I truly believe that only Jesus can fill the Jesus sized hole? I know in my mind that this is true, I have even put it into practice, asking Him to come and fill me, and OH He has, He has been so faithful! BUT I always seem to go back to trying to fill that hole up with other things, other people.

    What a gift we give to those who love us and that we love when we let them off the hook, when we no longer insist that they fill our God sized hole.

    My marriage only found healing when I let Paul off the hook, when I put Jesus where Jesus was supposed to go and Paul was free to be a human and still receive my unconditional love.

    The swirling blackness that we suck people into when we try to fill our hole with them is so unfair, It traps them and makes it imposable for them to meet needs that they WERE created to meet.

    When I expect my kids to fill my hole it leads them feeling like they are never good enough. They sense that they can never live up to what I “need” them to be, That it is pointless to even try “vanity, vanity, all is vanity” I have found that when I started letting Jesus be Jesus and my kids be my kids I was able to teach them how to put Jesus in their holes so that they are not as susceptible to trying to fill them up with junk.

    this is a daily struggle for me, I have to make a conscious effort every day to put Jesus in that hole so that the vacuum of His absence does not suck people into my darkness.

    1. Love that Cyndi! “but alas, it is still empty and we have sucked everyone around us into the great darkness of our unfulfilled expectations.” That just hit me to the core. Such truth in it indeed.

    2. Thanks Cyndi, so honest.

  2. Again Dee you have blessed me with this…I have been now struggling with that stone of control. Sigh…Approval has gotten better but control has reared its ugly head. Love this study will take it deeper. Plus we are studying the book of Ecc. in church now…love how God ties things together. Invited my woman’s group over here. Not sure if they will join in or not. Hope they will they would love it.

    1A-Eternity
    1B-A longer for something more than what we have now.
    1C-Vac and whirlpool both have that sucking in action…Maybe that is why one brand of vac is called whirlpool ha ha! 😉
    1D-I have devoured so much…Husband to be that Savior on white horse only to let me down (which is good because then he would be an idol), food for comfort, medicine for pain and numbing that desire, kids to make me happy when only God can, accomplishment in education, etc to fill it….Nothing fills it. Nothing. Only Christ can fill that whole period.
    1E-We cannot truly fathom what God has done from beginning til end. It is amazing what God has done and really we need to try to stop figuring it out. Or atleast I do. I think too much about it like I will find the answer.

    Will be back to answer others. Looking forward to it, what others are saying, and praying for our group new and old.

  3. 1A. God has set eternity in the human heart. B. What this means is a difficult question. The truth is, I have no idea. This verse so full of meaning and it is just teasing my brain. Everything is beautiful in its time…when one is young? Or when one is old and wise? Maybe when one blind finally sees? The Holman uses appropriate instead of beautiful. I can’t help but think that an eternal heart is one of the ways we are created in His image. Then I wonder what the fall did to the human heart. D. The mystery may be that while God has set eternity in our hearts we cannot fathom it. We cannot fathom what He has done from beginning to end. Maybe that is the frustration. Our hearts are eternal and from the garden we wanted to be like God, but we can’t, we need Him. Our hearts are created by Him for fellowship with Him and the hole is a result of our rebellion. In our rebellion we try to fill it with anything but God. This is idolatry in all of its depravity.
    The verse comes out of statements from Solomon about man’s work and how God has given him work to keep him occupied. That seems significant to me because one of the most common things man has replaced God with is work. He wants to acquire stuff so that he does not need God. But Solomon says that man should enjoy his work and the fruits of his labor. Our culture is not well known for that philosophy.
    C. The vacuum and the whirlpool both suck things into oblivion. They are never satisfied either. They don’t plan to devour, it’s just what they do.
    D. The first thing that comes to mind in answer to this one is food. Wow! It does not satisfy. It only makes me fat! But I have to apply this question to my stated worst idol of approval. Rather than seeing myself as approved of by God I look to others for approval. The only thing is that I can’t please everyone and if even one person does not approve, I am devastated. I am sure that my need in this area pushes people away from me so really my idol destroys me. It takes from me that which I need most.

  4. Just beginning thoughts to share…I was thinking about the 2 vacuum cleaners I have in my house. One is a wimpy one I keep downstairs for little messes, the other is a huge, heavy mighty powerful one–it sucks in anything in sight. Then I was thinking of how Pascal calls our soul a God-shaped vacuum (love this def. in websters:Vacuum=a space not filled or occupied; emptiness; void)…and I was thinking a God-shaped vacuum would be like my mighty huge vacuum cleaner–such a voracious appetite to satisfy that anything and everything nearby gets sucked in….so the deeper step–what am I sucking in to fill my void these days?

    Approval from my husband for a clean home, good meals, looking pretty; approval from the kids teachers that they love my well-behaved kids!; praise from my husband and friends for how “spiritual” or deep I am– ugh. yuck! That’s a big one for me.

    My own idol of a clean house, of being some ideal mom/wife, etc…I have thrown myself into it and struggled to admit failure or weakness.

    I love what Cyndi said about letting Paul off the hook to meet her needs. I do believe that is the only way we ever found healing in our marriage as well. I thought I married mine to “save him” (not spiritually as much as his terrible home life), but he also saved me from a hard childhood…and we spent a good 10 years of marriage feeding off of eachother–sucking the life out of each other in a desperate attempt to have the other satisfy our pits within. But only He. Only He could do that. And finally, we stopped looking at each other and held one another’s hands to together look to Him. He did it, a true miracle in our brokenness.

    When I remember that, I feel foolish for thinking these other temporal pleasures can fill me up. When I let Him do it, nothing else matters, and I can see others and love others for whose they are, not for what they can give me.

  5. “Approval from my husband for a clean home, good meals, looking pretty; approval from the kids teachers that they love my well-behaved kids!; praise from my husband and friends for how “spiritual” or deep I am– ugh. yuck! That’s a big one for me.

    My own idol of a clean house, of being some ideal mom/wife, etc…I have thrown myself into it and struggled to admit failure or weakness.”

    I could have writen this Elizabeth!! I didn’t know their was another person on earth who felt like this!!!
    it feels so good to be free from this on some level but I wonder if I will ever really be free from it this side of heaven.
    Im so glad that we can see it and now can work on it and fight against in instead of justify it.
    I think it is so very hard because it looks so good. people LIKE it when your like this for the most part. I have never heard anyone complain “she makes good meals and the house is always clean and I always have clean underwear…gee I wish she would stop!” or “her kids behave so well, she really needs to start neglecting them so they will ask as bad as the rest of the kids in my class”
    I find it really hard to continue with the “good things” that God has blessed me with the strength to do and yet not be proud of them.
    giving God all the glory and not insisting on being thanked or noticed, even by my family, has been how I have taken little baby steps in the right direction.
    love hearing your heart!!! it is so much like mine.

    1. You are so right Cyndi! It’s hard for me to give up these “counterfeit gods”–because on some surface level, they work, temporarily–like junk food instead of nutritious food though, they leave me starving just a little while later and they cause long term damage.

      The evidence for me is when I DON’T get the approval–this fake “food”–for example my husband neglects to say I look pretty or he fails to mention the great food, the clean toilets… or a friend comments about how wise another friend was (not me!)…I get pouty and angry inside–as if they OWE me my satisfaction through their approval.

      And that’s when I’m convicted again that I have been living off the temporal pleasure instead of the real thing!

      1. yep, thats my litmus test! If I need to hear someone else praise me for what i have done or said, or if I get bent out of shape because I have not been thanked or noticed….. then I know my motives stink and idol mess is sittin in my heart.
        “do your good deeds in secret, cuz if you get a reward here on earth you will not get one in heaven” I should not have put quotes on that, it is Cyndi version of a vs. that I love:)
        ten points to anyone who can find it:)

        1. I happen to remember that one only because we’ve been teaching it to my daughter just last week (ironic!) Matthew 6:1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

          Yes, it’s when I do not get the recognition that I realize I have placed my self-worth on these idols of my heart–being tidy, pretty, etc…instead of getting my worth from being the King’s daughter!

  6. it’s been a LONG time since I have been a part of a group of women so vulnerable and willing to share their “stuff”…giving me a safe place to do the same without criticism or judgment–what a gift from Him it is!

  7. 1. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (NIV)

    A. What has God set in the human heart?

    * Eternity

    B. What does this mean?

    * I’m with Cyndi, this is hard to describe, but I will try..I am thinking of the whole of that part of the verse..I thought eternity went on forever but it says no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end..Does that mean in our lives, or in general in this world? I am thinking in our lives..That we have a constant hunger to see the end because we are impatient with the now..I think one of the reasons I am impatient with the now is that I forget that God has ordained the now as part of the whole eternal picture.. I also think of he made ‘everything’ beautiful in it’s time and that means trials and ugly things that happen to.. It is in those hard core trial moments that it is difficult to wait until He is done and I see him face to face. Sorry, I think I analyzed or rabbit trailed too much again. 🙂

    C. Pascal called it a “God-shaped vacuum,” which reminds me of the whirlpool analogy. What does a vacuum, and a whirlpool have in common?

    *They both suck up stuff. 😉 Could it be that we are like that innately even though we know Jesus..I think refraining from sucking stuff up into that hole is counter-intuitive and only by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace and mercy of God can we go against our very nature.

    1. Rebecca, I think what you say about the here and now is right on target. God has great gifts for us right where we are but we miss them if we are impatient.

    1. I watched a movie once where the lead told a child tha not to dream of bunnies, whatever she did, do not dream of bunnies….this child was having nightmares every night and this very wise woman told her “not to dream of bunnies” which were her favorite things in the whole world…soooo what did she dream about instead of her bad dreams…bunnies of course:)
      the harder we try NOT to think of something the more it permieates all we do and think. its only when we REPLACE our bad things with GOOD things (Jesus) that we can truely get away from the BAD.

  8. D. How has your soul been like a whirlpool? What have you devoured in an attempt to feed your soul hunger? Be specific, please — and tell the results too.

    * I have to expand a bit on ‘eternity in the heart’ to answer this. I think because I am hungry to see the end..to no longer need faith with the here and now knowing it is a part of the big picture, I get impatient and I have tried to fill that void with comfort and approval from man..For example, God has brought to mind that I am trying to suck in other’s approval of how I parent. When my two eldest don’t have raving reviews in their parent teacher conferences I winch and say to myself, “Great, they are going to think I am a great parent.” Then I lay into them to try to control them..When God has given all four of my boys high IQ’s and a lack of ability to do sports, I think..”I guess the dreams of going to a sports event and having my son be the star or popular is gone.”

    Instead God has given me three of my four boys who sometimes get made fun of at school for being geeks or nerds and I get hurt inside when of them comes home saying someone made fun of them. But even then when I go to my third grader’s parent teacher conference and He writes a paper saying he wants to become an engineer and design a B3 plane which will be a hybrid between a B1 and B2, and I find they have him in advanced classes, pride wells up inside and that vacumm begins to suck up approval again. YUK.

    The results of this is that it leaves me stressed, tired, frustrated, defeated, and it has heaped loads of expectations on my son’s shoulders they can’t possibly meet. No one can please man 100% but we have Jesus approval 100% when we come to know Him and should rest in His approval and we should desire to please him when we do our work as unto Him..To see that I am passing this fleshly crud down to them by my actions is heartbreaking as a mom, BUT there is grace, and tons of mercy every day, praise God!

  9. Dee, I recall one time Pastor Hale came up to us when I was pregnant with Eli and he said that we have created a baby who is an eternal being, but I think he was saying that eternity starts for us even before conception. All of us are living eternal lives both believer and unbeliever. The difference is are we living life eternal with Jesus or are we living life eternal with Satan..When we come to know Jesus then that is the start of our eternal life with Him.

  10. “But let’s go further, remembering idols cannot be removed — only replaced. Why is it if we only refrain, the situation gets worse?”

    Because refraining isn’t replacing and the idol is still there..Refraining is a form of ignoring rather than replacing it with Jesus so instead we run to more idols and more things to fill that hole and the problem grows and we grow less and less in our intimacy with Jesus..

    I used to think that those holes were filled once we received Christ but again Len said a long time ago that even then we still have that longing inside, we still at times feel alone when in reality we aren’t..

  11. Interesting to see about eternity…not sure how to answer that one.
    If we just refrain from something the gaping hole still remains unfilled. It must be filled with something and that something is Christ.

    Noticed I had lots of typos in my last post…sorry.

    2-Solomon.
    We see this longing over and over in 1:1-11
    Everything is meaningless and just repeats over and over nothing is new.
    v.3-labor repeats what are we working for?
    v.4-generations repeat because everyone just dies in this life
    v.5-The sun rises and sets over and over again
    v.6-The wind goes round and round
    v.7-The waters flow around and around again
    v.8-Weariness is everywhere everything just goes on…Eyes never can see enough, ears never can hear enough.
    v.9,10-There is nothing new…All things have already come
    v.11-no one remembers those of old-fame is even meaningless
    (Exploring what is the point in what we do?)

  12. 1. A) Eternity

    B) I started to write that we are made to crave something more, something beyond this world, something not bound by people or time…and then I thought–if Eternity is “set” in my heart–what this means to ME, is that I have ALL I NEED, already. I don’t need to seek it from anyone/anything else.
    I think I need to sit with that a while!

    C)they suck in whatever is within reach and it becomes part of the body

    D)I have devoured praise and adoration from others, the approval of family and friends, the “labels” I’ve been given (positive ones!), my Self on a throne ;0

    The results? I am gross when I do not receive mentioned things and my demanding self-righteous spirit is reveled. I am empty, hurt, and again reminded that I have set my eyes on earthly treasures instead of Eternity.

    2. Vs 2 Everything is meaningless; vs 3 What do people gain from all their labors; vs8 All things are wearisome; vs 9 there is nothing new under the sun.

    1. Not sure if my answer to B makes sense–I was trying to explain myself to my husband–I think what I mean is that I define eternity as my life with Christ. not just in Heaven, but it begins now…so if God has placed that truth of Eternity in my heart–what else can I want?
      If that reality, the truth, sinks into my thoughts and attitude and feelings, then if my husband comes in and does not thank me for cleaning the bathroom….I am able to fully love him, not complain or whine, because Eternity is my future reality and I am so full from that, I do not need from anyone anything.

      So I replace my idol with the reality of Eternity–not just my future, but in my present. Still hard to put words to what is in my head!

      1. Sorry about this trail! It makes sense in my head–feel free to delete, Dee!

        My mom comes this week (the re-scheduled visit) so I won’t be able to post much, will just work on the rest of the lesson on my own.

        I pray you all have a blessed week!

        1. Elizabeth..you made me smile because I can SO relate to not being able to put words down like they are in my head. I tend to go off the reservation a lot but heck I know you all still love me anyway. 🙂

          I do get what you are saying..Very good insight in replacing the idol with the reality of eternity. This will be good to ponder on today.

        2. Thank you Rebecca–I appreciate your sweet affirmation! 😉

  13. Just soaking in the wisdom here and being encouraged!!

  14. 1 D. The mystery for me is that it is incomprehensible. I can’t fathom how God has ordained the days of my life, how even the bad things that happen in life are beautiful somehow, He hemmed me behind and before, how he knew me before I was even born..how he set eternity in my heart..to steal the words from a song, ‘what do I know of this love’.. ‘what do I know of holy?’ I can rejoice in His love and fall into His arms in full rest and comfort but I can’t fathom the depths, the heights of it..I am glad I can’t behold it.. ♥

    I have to add that I think it might be that even though I can rejoice in these things and rest in his arms it won’t be a perfect rest until HE comes and I am with Him face to face so for now I will have battles with that whirlpool in my heart because of the idol issue so I must replace the idols in my heart with Jesus pretty much daily..so they won’t jump on the throne again and again..

  15. 2. Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, felt this vacuum in his soul and couldn’t imagine how to fill it. He felt pain, boredom, and a longing for relief. Find phrases that describe this in Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1::1-11.

    * V2,11 Pain: 2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
    “Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

    11 No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
    will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

    * V8 relief – All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
    The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.

    V9-10 Boredom – 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.

      1. haha! Amen sister..I hadn’t thought of that! I Needed to hear that. He makes ‘everything’ beautiful in its time.

  16. 2. Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, felt this vacuum in his soul and couldn’t imagine how to fill it. He felt pain, boredom, and a longing for relief. Find phrases that describe this in Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:1-11. Generations come and go, the sun rises and sets, the wind blows from north to south, streams flow to the sea yet the sea is never full all in endless cycle (for which I give thanks). Nothing is ever finished or satisfied. Solomon is bored and wants something new. He could have been thankful for all of these things savoring each one as a gift from God but he was just sucking them up and saying ‘Is there nothing more?’ His thankless heart lost touch with his God.

    Sometimes I feel that I am stretched too thin in the various studies and books I am reading. I sense that I am missing some of the meat somewhere. Then they will converge like a stream into a river and an application will be forged into my life. I am growing and I see that in each of us.

    1. Anne, You said: “Solomon is bored and wants something new. He could have been thankful for all of these things savoring each one as a gift from God but he was just sucking them up and saying ‘Is there nothing more?’ His thankless heart lost touch with his God.”

      Great insight Anne… I admit I can relate to Solomon..It is that unsettling, squirmy soul who can’t lie contented in Jesus’ arms seeing His hand in every thing both bad things that happen and good things..Not being so selfish, hurried and earthly minded that I can’t see the beauty He has ordained in every event in life, but He is my knight in shining armor and has come to my rescue via this blog yet again to peel away another layer and shine His light on it..So here I am looking into His face once again.. ♥

    2. I think we all relate. I know I do. Just this morning I was thinking about when Al was little and we lived in a very small house. All I could think about in those years was how we needed a larger house. Those were precious years and in many ways forged the wonder that he is now, but they slipped away into the whirlpool of ingratitude…want to cry but I will work on my list of His gifts instead.

  17. 3-Wisdom…Oh the quest for knowledge. I have heard of people who are professional students…they stay in college for their entire life (not sure how they afford this).Sorrow and Grief come with these.

    Pleasure-meaningless, madness

    No pleasure with held-He tried all things here. The thing that popped out to me is life is short…What is it we are doing with our lives?

  18. My pastor is preaching through this now…
    http://www.concord-baptist.org/media.php?pageID=29

    The link if anyone wants to listen. It is good stuff. We are going through the book.

    My take away is just really evaluating what is important to me. Have I left my first love? Am I in some of these meaningless pursuits? Just pondering my heart. I struggle because I know I am not as smart as others and I read great input here. Feeling inadequate but again that is not truth. Pondering why I feel that way..maybe a need for approval again and feeling I don’t measure up? Who knows. God is working things out of my heart and I am thankful for that.

    1. Angela, I don’t know but I sure do glean a lot from you sister.. God is working through you. I am not saying that to flatter but in love and in truth. Satan wants all of us to turn our eyes to our self because he doesn’t like what God is doing here. He does it to me ALL THE TIME. Whenever you think you ‘aren’t as smart as others’ that is a seed of condemnation and Satan’s sneaky way of getting your mind to trail off what God is showing you. I am sure you already know that, but sometimes it helps to be reminded of it. 🙂

      I am learning a lot through all of you..Sometimes God comes on so strong through one of you I am totally blown away.

    2. Angela, amen to what Rebecca said. If ever the thought crosses your mind that you are not speaking into our lives, dismiss it immediately. It is not truth. Love you sister. Thanks for the link.

  19. 3A. In 1:13-18 Solomon tried to satisfy his soul with wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly. He found them all to be empty, like chasing the wind, pointless. This made him sorrowful because he could see what is lacking and that what is crooked cannot be straightened. I find myself feeling this way when I leave God out of the equation in looking at something hopeless. When I am prayerless.

    B. What did his soul hunger try to feed on and how did he feel in Ecclesiastes 2:1-2l?

    He fed his soul with work and pleasure. He found no gain in any of it and felt resentful of leaving the fruits of his labor to one who did not work for it.

    C. He continues to embrace worldly wisdom and wine, but adds to his quest in Ecclesiastes 2:3-11. If a phrase jumps out at you, the Spirit may be quickening you, so slow down, turn it over, and see if God is speaking to you. List your discoveries and meditations here.

    He worked hard and played hard. He explored sensual pleasures and built every kind of beauty around him. The phrase that jumps out to me is in verse 10. ‘I did not refuse myself any pleasure, for I took pleasure in all my struggles.’ This reminds me of commercials that say ‘you deserve it’ or ‘you are worth it’. ‘After all, you worked hard.’ But he could find no real reward in his accomplishments and resented leaving them to a fool after he died. He must have been able to see the foolishness of his son even then. He was the one who divided the kingdom with a flick of his wrist.

    As he became farther away from God I think Solomon’s great wisdom actually worked against him in that he could see much more than the average person, making his sense of hopelessness more acute.

  20. 5. What is your take–a-way this week? The real futility is loving my life in this world and expecting it to bring me every good thing. Loving God is what brings true joy and fulfillment. I think this is what Solomon was able to see in all his wisdom. I went to the end of the book to see what his conclusions were. Give to the poor, work hard and leave the results to God, AND remember your Creator in the days of your youth, for in the end He is with you. Then in 11:8, rejoice in all of your years because life is short (my paraphrase-give thanks).

  21. 3. Then he goes on a pursuit to try to fill this hole. List both the ways he tried to fill it and how he felt when his “whirlpool” sucked up these things in each of the following passages:

    A. What did his soul hunger try to feed on and how did he feel in 1:13-18. (This is not godly wisdom, but “under the sun” or worldly wisdom)

    * he temporarily filled it with being a leader and in his intellectual pursuits..delved into science it seems-studying how things work- and filled his mind up so much that he was ‘above’ all other Kings before him with his knowledge. I am sure since that temporary filling didn’t satisfy he sucked up more into his whirlpool with folly and fast living..

    * He felt sorrow and grief..

  22. 3 C. He continues to embrace worldly wisdom and wine, but adds to his quest in Ecclesiastes 2:3-11. If a phrase jumps out at you, the Spirit may be quickening you, so slow down, turn it over, and see if God is speaking to you. List your discoveries and meditations here.

    * Wow, Solomon really did everything to satisfy that whirlpool’s hunger in his heart..Verses 10 and 11 stuck out to me..

    *Solomon did everything, had everything any man could want but found no satisfaction in it..It seems to me he was running from God’s perfect comfort and control in his life and grasping onto his destructive idols of comfort and control.

    I’ll start in a broader sense..I really believe that here in America comfort is a god..and we are taught that the ultimate in life–arriving in life is when you have a great job, two children a nice home and lots of things, vacations etc..We say we are free and we are, but spiritually we bind ourselves in these worldly pursuits..it so penetrates us that we aren’t free to go out and serve the poor, help the widow and the orphans in our midst..We even put up our families as idols in the Christian realm..Our children can easily become whirlpool fillers, but our highest calling is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts souls and minds and love our neighbors as ourselves.

    I can’t love God with my heart, soul and mind and my neighbors as myself when I am filling my whirlpool with worldly pursuits and pleasures..it doesn’t mean anything for eternity..none of it.

    Spending time at the feet of Jesus, Touching someone’s life for Christ..leading someone to Him, discipling them..showing them His love counts for eternity…When my thrust in life takes a turn and I am pursuing these things that turn to dust and my passion grows for them more so than Christ and His highest calling in my life, then that is a red flag for me that my whirlpool is sucking in the wrong direction..

  23. Rebecca, I love your comments! I woke up sick this morning and I realize how easy it is to make comfort an idol:) My kids can often become my WHOLE focus. with 5 little souls to lead to him, love and cook and clean and drive for its hard to not let them fill up that Whirlpool.
    got to take the kids to school, will finish later, just wanted to let Rebecca know who much I appreciated her comments!

    1. Cyndi,

      JEsus SO understands that though and I think you are really seeking Jesus.

      I think one of my new role models is Ann VosKamp..I know she isn’t perfect and she will say so, but it seems her thrust in life is lived for Him..she home schools and I am sure she struggles with the balance of not making her children fill that whirlpool, she does reach out to the poor and does use her gift of writing for the Lord..She includes her children in her ministries in a life on life kind of precious way..Yet I am sure she takes time out of her day away from her kids to use that wonderful gift of writing and that shows me she is filling her hole with Him..

      OH and I have to add that Cyndi I CAN RELATE TO YOU every day! Sometimes I feel like I am walking a tight rope and I am one step away from stupid..From taking my eyes off of Jesus and that whirlpool’s veracity is like a monster sucking in my kids, husband, everything. Sometimes I don’t even realize it when it is happening until I sense that longing for Jesus again..that desire to rest in his arms..

  24. must start school!! wanted to let you know that I posted some pictures of our ice storm on my blog:) everything is COVERED with half an inch of ice. ferrellchinajourney.blogspot.com

    1. I can’t get it your blog, Cyndi Can anyone else get it?

      1. not sure…www.ferrellchinajourney.blogspot.com
        or there is a link on facebook if you have that. im under Cyndi ferrell it toledo and the profile pic is of the 7 of us

  25. I have tried everything there is to try, believe me, none of it works, thats what 1:14 is saying to me….learn from me stupid, don’t do what I did. God is the ONLY thing that is worth living for and the only ONE who can fill you up.

    my take away from the week is that I can not believe how much more content I am. I feel comfortable in my own skin, I am laughing more, loving more, relaxing more!! Everything I do here is vanity on some level so what should I get my skirt all up in a bunch about it?!?!?! so what if the laundry needs…(brake here to go yell at my girls for playing slippy slide in the shower..ahhhhhhh:)) done and most of my christmas cards are not sent….so what? its not a reflection on how God loves me or my value in His eyes…..right??? right??? RIGHT?? OK that approval idol may have just reared it’s ugly head!! 🙂

    Thank you all, you have helped me see that God is not so much interested in all my good deeds as he is in having my heart and loving me, and he WANTS me to enjoy the life He has blessed me with, it does not make me more holy to never be satisfied with where I am at on this journey, it is OK to not be perfect! (did those words just come out of MY mouth????)….yes I will always strive to be the very best Cyndi God made me to be…..but I am enjoying the journey sooooooooooooo much more:) 🙂 🙂 🙂 :0) :-0

    1. Cyndi, Amen sister!! Love the break you had to take to deal with behavior! 🙂 I can SO relate!

      You encouraged me with your awesome testimony and I do love your personality and your free spirit. 😉

    2. Love this Cyndi! I feel comfortable in my own skin, I am laughing more, loving more, relaxing more!!

  26. Reading through all your posts….ALOT to digest.
    Cyndi, you did an awesome job starting out with your description of how we suck everyone around us into the darkness of our unfulfilled expectations. How we go through our parents, friends, spouse, and then on to our children, trying to get them all to meet our needs and fill up that gaping hole. That is me, too! I can so see myself in this description.
    I think that is why I have been feeling the past few months like I’m hitting a “mid life crisis” in a way; some days I feel like I’m almost losing my mind. I can’t depend on mom and dad in the same way I used to; I am more protective of them now that they are elderly and have their own problems with health, I don’t want to burden them with my problems, only try to be there for them and help them. I have gleaned alot of insight from you also about why I may have the problems in my marriage that I have. I haven’t reached the point yet of letting my husband off the hook and accepting that he is not going to be the way I want him and meet my needs, and instead to just love him unconditionally. Because I’m always angry and resentful when he isn’t living up to my expectations of him, which of course does not foster unconditional love. And with one son away at college, and another looking at schools in other states as possible college destinations, and a daughter that keeps growing too fast, I can’t continue to cling to them to meet my needs either. And plus, it’s not healthy for them. They need to be launched into the world, knowing they’ll always have my love and support but they need to feel free to make their own way. I know a couple of moms who try to lay guilt on their kids for not paying attention to them, etc… and it cripples their kids, I don’t want to be that kind of mom.
    Wow, so much here to think about, and looking forward to diving into the study myself.

    One good quote I heard on a radio sermon yesterday that kind of relates to that question about how idols need to be replaced…this was a quote by Martin Luther, and it went something like this:

    When Satan comes knocking at the door, who answers it? Jesus does, and He says, ‘Martin used to live here, but he doesn’t anymore. I live here now’.
    Perhaps when Satan comes knocking with his arms full of tempting idols, I should just let Jesus answer the door!

    1. Susan, I will be praying for you to “let you husband off the hook” it is soooooo very hard to day. we all long to be loved and when the one we thought would do that the best does not it hurts so bad!
      only a miracle…and I meen a true miracle…can help this to happen. I could have NEVER DONE THIS IN MY OWN STRENGTH. NEVER NEVER NEVER. and I still can’t, 4 years later it is still hard some days.
      My heart bleeds for you sister. it is such a hard journey, do not try to take it alone, Im glad we can all be at your side.
      you are so wise to not put that burden on your kids. it is so easy to do!

      Jesus I pray that you will give Susan the courage to give her heart to her husband, fully without reserve, and that when he breaks her heart, You will put it back together for her. I pray for healing in Susans marriage and for her broken heart, that you will bring a miracle into their lives. Lord, I thank you that I do not have a perfect marriage, I thank you for the 15 hard years we spend hurting each other, because out of those ashes you have grown such beauty, and I pray this for Susan and her dear husband today.
      amen

      please pray for Paul and I this week, EVERY time I give this testamony…and I meen EVERY time, satan attacks and we have hard days…. (In fact, I almost didnt’ because things are going so well and i did not want to take a chance:)He really does not want me to share this! he loves to attack marriage and families and he wants us to feel helpless.

      1. Praying for you both, Susan and Cyndi

    2. Susan, I can so understand your anger and resentment. For years I could not get free of it. I’m not sure what really changed me. I mean I’m sure it was the Lord and answered prayer but I will have to think about how I changed.

    3. Susan, when I reread your post I noticed the part about feeling in crisis. I wonder if you should look at the possibility of hormonal imbalance. That can be very difficult in itself and it is just what you don’t need right now. There are some natural things available now. I used a progesterone cream that I got at the health food store. I just rubbed a small amt on my arm daily and it really helped my hot flashes. Maybe you are too young for that and I don’t mean to be insulting. It’s just a thought and maybe worth a trip to the doctor.

      1. Anne, I know that when I got my levels under control things got to the point where i could handle things better.

    1. Very good song Cyndi. All those little frustrations shaping us, into His image. The Potter at work.

  27. Ladies, heading out to go to our church and work up the song I am singing this Sunday with the worship team band. Pray for me. 🙂 I am a bit nervous as this is only the second time I have sang at our new church so I am not used to working with this worship team yet. I don’t like these nerves so pray for confidence in Him and that this is for Him..I am thinking of Mary breaking her jar of perfume at Jesus feet and putting myself there right with her when I sing this song. I can hear her singing it..She was there and saw him weep with her..felt his passionate love for her and then saw his power in raising Lazarus..I am sure she was in awe of Him…That is what this song is about..I am singing “What do I know of Holy” by Addison Road.. Love you all!!

    1. Sounds like a beautiful song Rebecca. Praying for you that you will relax and let His Spirit lead you to Jesus’ feet, leading others to do the same.

  28. 4. The main thing that strikes me here is the denial of heaven’s claim upon our lives, as if we were inhabitants of this space and time only. If we do this, the things of earth just do not satisfy, whether silly or sublime. But if we have God in His rightful place we may find joy in many things, silly or sublime.

    Also, I wondered about the statement: when I am ahead of where I meant to be. Could this refer to the fact that the road away from God always takes us to where we did not intend to go?

    What’s left from strife and struggle? I believe the answer to this is found at the end of the book when Solomon says: who knows what will prosper(11:6). So we work hard and leave the results to God, not keep them for ourselves.

    Dee, what does this mean: high liturgical churches? I looked up liturgy and found: a rite or body of rites prescribed for public worship. That helps but I still don’t really understand and I want to. I sense a connection here that I may have missed and may bring me closer to understanding my oldest son. How can I, one who loves emotional worship come into high liturgy and not find it dry? I sense the presence of a deep reverence that I have missed when in liturgical churches.

    1. Anne, I love these thoughts of yours: “4. The main thing that strikes me here is the denial of heaven’s claim upon our lives, as if we were inhabitants of this space and time only. If we do this, the things of earth just do not satisfy, whether silly or sublime. But if we have God in His rightful place we may find joy in many things, silly or sublime.

      Also, I wondered about the statement: when I am ahead of where I meant to be. Could this refer to the fact that the road away from God always takes us to where we did not intend to go?”

      Very deep, very thoughtful..thanks Anne!

  29. Cyndi thank you for your encouragement and prayer – it was beautiful. I will be praying for you and your husband against the enemy’s attack. I’ll share something with you that I hope helps you. A few years ago, I had a “mountaintop” experience with the Lord during a time of prayer and pouring out my heart to Him, and I journaled several pages of how I felt He spoke to my heart. I had lunch with my friend Aneta, an older, mature, very wise godly woman. I shared my written notes with her, and then I said “well, now I suppose Satan is going to attack me to try to steal it all from me!” And she said, “Susan, don’t live by “what-if’s”, she basically told me to have courage and not to expect the worst – to not live in fear or expectation of Satan – to not give him the satisfaction of giving him a second thought! Not to waste my time on thinking about him at all!

    Anne, I will share that in 2008 I had a total hysterectomy due to endometriosis, and I am on hormone replacement so actually I feel pretty good; I get it monitored regularly by my doctor who specializes in hormonal therapy and so I don’t think it’s hormonal imbalance. I think that when I am not looking to the Lord to meet my needs and anxiously looking about and grabbing onto others for help instead of Him, it leads to an unsound mind!

    In my Bible next to Psalm 51:10-13, I have written next to these verses that “this is a picture of a whole person, a believer – accepting God’s forgiveness, being renewed by the Spirit, regaining the joy of his salvation, then having a testimony for others”.

    “Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
    Do not cast me away from Thy presence,
    and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me.
    Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation,
    and sustain me with a willing spirit.
    Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways,
    and sinners will be converted to Thee.”

  30. 1. Meditate on Ecclesiastes 3:11.

    A. God has set eternity in the heart of man.

    B. What does this mean?

    I went to Biblegateway and looked up this verse in several translations, which proved very interesting as to the meaning. I have the NASB translation which words it like this:

    He has made everything appropriate (lit. beautiful) in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man (lit. without which man) will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

    I also noted Young’s Literal Translation:

    The whole He hath made beautiful in its season; also, that knowledge He hath put in their heart without which man findeth not out the work that God hath done from the beginning even unto the end.

    Other translations like the NIV translate it that man cannot know what God has done but I find these two seem to point to a different meaning, that WITHOUT this knowledge, or eternity set into our hearts, we are unable to find out what God has done.

    Maybe I’m on a rabbit trail, but I am seeing that if God had not set eternity in our hearts, we would live out our lives never being able to perceive Him, and perhaps never being able to comprehend His plan of salvation which began before the earth’s foundation was laid, although we can never fully understand the plans and wonders of our God.

    1. Susan, I think you are on to something here. If it is a rabbit trail, I’m right behind you. You said that it is eternity in our hearts that causes us to desire salvation. It may be just what enables us to live this life in a way that looks toward eternity. It is hard for me to put this thought into words but it may be the eternity in our hearts that causes the hole. We were not created for this life alone and those who deny the existence of God and try to live for themselves end up in all kinds of dysfunction, just like Solomon. But because of our eternal hearts we can look up, lay down this life and live for eternity with God.

      1. I am pressing the “like” button here Anne! 🙂

      2. God in His wisdom and mercy gave us that “hole” in the heart! I agree with your thoughts, Anne!

    1. Dee, your words brought great comfort and encouragement to me this morning..I was getting discouraged because I totally related with Solomon and I began to beat myself up internally that I struggle so much.

      I didn’t have time last night but I was thinking, wow every time someone here writes about their marriage, their life with their children, their struggles, I can totally relate..totally..I have to say I have NEVER been in a bible study like this with women this honest about their lives and their struggles and in giving testimony of God’s great working in their hearts. It IS so beautiful. 🙂

      1. I agree this is a really “unmasked” group of women – so real and willing to share and it is so encouraging.

    2. I so agree Rebecca. In face to face studies there is always a time constraint. We only have so much time and ‘cross talk’ is discouraged. I can understand why. There is only so much time to work through the questions. But here…this is amazing! We can read at our leisure, post our thoughts as they come to us and be honest about our struggles. It also makes me think about how destructive the ‘Sunday morning mask’ is. Often we put it on because, after all, aren’t we supposed to be joyful? And if we take it off aren’t people uncomfortable in the face of our struggles? I think here we are learning to be open and that as women we face most of the same struggles.

      1. Anne, yes that makes so much sense and I do love the Sunday mask comment..You didn’t know it, but that is what I needed to hear to calm my nerves for Sunday..It doesn’t make sense I am sure, but trust me, I needed to hear it. 🙂

    3. Dee, you have hit the nail on the head – with your description – “We have no ability to choose God, but in His mercy, He put a longing in us.”
      Like a car or something is built with certain features, God DESIGNED us with this feature, it’s BUILT INTO US.
      “When He takes the blindfold off, we suddenly see how we are
      filling that eternity with the wrong things, that He is our
      only hope.” Shouldn’t this help us to love and give grace to the unbeliever – God hasn’t taken their blindfold off yet! And only He can.
      “But then we struggle, because we do love our idols. because
      our hearts are deceitful, and because we fail to be with the
      Lover of our Souls”. He gives us the best, He gives us Himself, and what do we do? Cling to our old ways and idols.

      I hope what you wrote is going into one of your books, Dee!

      1. “He gives us the best, He gives us Himself, and what do we do? Cling to our old ways and idols.”- So true..Kind of reminds me of the Israelites. We are so much like them.. 🙂 We are sheep and we roam from our shepherd. 🙂

        I was thinking about what Dee said over and over in my mind this morning and it brought such comfort as I am going through some ‘new changes this week’..new worship team surprise as they asked me to help out this Sunday along with singing my special, so I had to learn some songs on the fly..not real sure of a couple of them, then today is my first day as a sub at the school. I work from 10-2..have no clue what I am doing yet so I am nervous about that..Perhaps the control god is rearing it’s ugly head and God is ripping it out of my hands this week. I am a lot like Elizabeth where I tend to like to be totally prepared..sometimes overly prepared. SO, God gives me four BOYS and LOTS of opportunities to be flexible and to trust Him. ♥

  31. 1.C. Pascal called it a “God-shaped vacuum”. What does a vacuum, and a whirlpool, have in common?

    Everyone did a good job already at describing how they both suck things into them. I looked up the definition of vacuum and found it is “a volume of space, essentially empty of matter. From the Latin word which means empty.”

    Pondering how God “set” eternity/knowledge in the heart of man; a deliberate action by Him to set in the heart of man an empty space, yet that empty space contains yearnings and longings for something to fill it, yearning for glimpses of things unseen and not of this world, for meaning, for depth, for love, for belonging.

    So we turn on the suction in an attempt to trap things inside to fill up the empty space. Whirlpools pull things into them with strong currents; ones that are really strong enough to do that are called maelstroms. What a violent maelstrom we become, wielding our idols and false sense of power, using manipulation and control and guilt to extract from others what feeds our starving soul.

    D. How has your soul been like a whirlpool? What have you devoured in an attempt to feed your soul hunger?

    One thing I devour is food for comfort. I’m not trying to spark jealousy here, but I am thin and I’ve always been able to eat whatever I want and how much I want, and I like to eat and I enjoy sweets especially. But even though weight is not an issue, I know it’s not good for my cholesterol and overall health.
    I also devour the approval of others. I resonate with what Anne said about being devastated if I feel disapproval from someone. I feel so rejected and hurt. Yet I see in myself a self-absorption in this; it’s like using others as a mirror to reflect back myself, and yuck, it’s not how God wants me to be, self-focused instead of other-focused.
    Even my serving others can be a way to fill up that emptiness. I have to ask myself for example, I enjoy making meals for my parents, helping them any way I can; teaching Sunday school, doing special things for my children; yet am I trying to fill that void with the satisfaction of being needed and appreciated/affirmed?
    It’s so discouraging at times, I feel that this side of heaven, it’s impossible to get away from “Self”!

    E. What mystery do you see in Ecclesiastes 3:11?

    The mystery of a God who has always existed; He reveals Himself to us and yet He is fathomless. His ways are unsearchable. How He knows us, how He designed us for Himself.

  32. 2. Solomon felt this vacuum in his soul and couldn’t imagine how to fill it. He felt pain, boredom, and a longing for relief. Find phrases that describe this in Ecclesiastes 1:1-11.

    1:2 “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity (or futile)”.

    That’s a painful emotion to feel that everything is futile, useless.

    1:3 “What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under
    the sun?”
    1:4 “A generation goes and a generation comes…”

    Not even any lasting satisfaction from a man’s work; you can’t take it with you.

    1:8 “All things are wearisome; man is not able to tell it. The eye
    is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with
    hearing.”
    1:9 “So, there is nothing new under the sun.”
    1:10 “Is there anything of which one might say, “See this, it is new?”
    Already it has existed for ages which were before us.”

    Solomon seems bored with life, there is nothing new to discover.

    1:11 “There will be for them no remembrance among those who will come
    later still.”

    Painful to think one’s life leaves no lasting legacy.

  33. Here is a sermon link my pastor preached on the verses we are discussing today
    http://www.concord-baptist.org/media.php?pageID=29

    Please pray for us we are all sick here. 🙁 Been this week and it is wearing on us now. Lifting prayer for you all…And marriage is a sanctifying relationship for sure!!

  34. Will be praying for you, Rebecca, about your singing and sub-teaching, and you, too, Angela – hope your family feels better soon.

    1. Susan, Thanks!! just so you know it is a sub job as a lunch lady..Yesterday went great..I see a great opportunity there to be salt and light. 🙂

      1. I used to volunteer as a lunch room monitor when my sons were younger at their school; are you one of the ladies that cooks and serves the meals? I remember how hard those women worked to prepare lunches for all those kids! My boys still remember the special things these ladies made for them, like in the fall, they would get fresh apples from a local orchard and make an apple crisp for dessert, or at Christmas time they made special sugar cut-out cookies for the kids. I’m sure you will be “salt” to season everything!

        1. Susan, yes I am one of the ladies that serves so far..I am going to learn a lot of other things as well I hope. YES it is a lot of hard work. YOU are SO encouraging!!

          There is a gal there whom God raised my red flag on..Not sure why, but I know she needs Him..She didn’t talk much to me..Was quiet, kind of had sad eyes but was staring at me on and off..Not sure why..May be because of how ridiculous I looked in my ‘cute’ baseball cap and pony tail?? 😉 Not sure…I saw some women with a lot of burden on their shoulders it seemed, but most if not all were very welcoming and kind to me. I do sense God’s calling for me to ‘go out’ and be salt and light in this community..The sub job is really great for me for my family..I can say no to a job when I need to be here. God is awesome to provide a way I can be salt and light among these women and yet not get out of balance here at home! 🙂

          Oh, and God kept reminding me of the whirlpool analogy with these women and I don’t know His love just filled my heart for these women..I so want them to know Him..His love..

      2. Thanks Susan for your prayers! We are still trying to get better…Praying for you too Rebecca.

    1. Done Dee…bless you

      1. Dee, am doing so this morning!

    2. Praying, Dee….. ANOTHER snow day here in Ohio with schools closed; we had 8 inches of snow Monday; I was at my parents’ and took me an hour and a half to get home where it usually takes 25 minutes; we’re getting hit again now and kids will be home today. Praying for your safety as you travel and that you will be able to get there… let us know!

    3. Praying for you Dee! 🙂

    4. praying.

  35. 3. A. What did his soul hunger try to feed on and how did he feel in 1:13-18? (This is not godly wisdom but under the sun, worldly wisdom).

    Solomon tried to feed on knowledge, learning. Verse 13 says “And I set my mind (heart) to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven.”
    Then he describes how it feels to do this, “It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.” He feels grieved and afflicted with this task.

    Verse 16 says “I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge. I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly…”

    Solomon admits that in wisdom there is much grief, and more knowledge results in more pain.

    B. What did his soul hunger feed on and how did he feel in 2:1-21?

    He fed on pleasure, and felt that it, too, was futility.

    Laughter, and it was madness.

    He tried to enhance his experiences with wine, and to take hold of folly; he tried material things, building more homes and gardens, beautiful things like parks filled with trees.
    He racked up material possessions – slaves, flocks and herds, silver and gold.
    He tried to entertain himself with singers, he tried sex with many concubines.

    After all this, he concludes it was all vanity and striving after the wind.

    Then he turns to wisdom, but realizes that the same fate awaits both the fool and the wise, they both die.

    He feels a hatred for all things; “So I hated life…I hated all the fruit of my labor.” He worries about the one to whom he will leave everything to when he dies, will he be a wise man or a fool?
    He was filled with despair.

  36. 4 A.

    * I think when we becomes slaves of our work and act as if this quick part of our eternity here on Earth is to live and die for, we will fill the whirlpool with it and experience a false and temporary contentment and purpose..it brings on pain and anxiety and striving after the wind. It was a huge waste of time with this brief part of our eternity here on Earth..Eternity after we die is so much longer than when we are here on earth..Scripture says our lives on this earth are like a breath, a flash compared to the whole of our existence..All we lived our lives for was striving after work, provision, things..comfort, mans approval, our control..We WILL see Jesus face to face and we need to be living like we are looking forward to it and remember that what counts now counts for that time as well.

    B.
    * LOVE This…”Not content to stay within the orbit of his love”. 🙂
    and
    “if this earthly life is dear

    to us above all else, that is, if we

    deny heaven’s claims upon our lives and see

    ourselves as beings of this space in time

    and nothing more, then neither things sublime

    nor silly will cohere or satisfy…”

    ** Not seeing ourselves as beings of heaven rather seeing ourselves as beings of this earth will not satisfy-it will not satisfy the whirlpool..I see this making the whirlpool stronger because it isn’t being satisfied to the point where it would suck me in, in destruction and in the end a wasted life..But, to be content in his love and to always be reminding myself of the truth that I am not here for myself, to survive and be comfortable..I am here to know Him, to love Him to become more intimate with Him and to live as if I am living for eternity for my heavenly home and to bring others along with me..

    WHY is that so hard to be single minded when everything in me is passionate for Him and desires to live every day this way..Well, it is because my heart is deceitful because of my sin and how I can skew things and lean toward my idols every day, but the beautiful truth is that Jesus can free me and I CAN grow and mature and while that battle will always be there, as I replace my idols with Him daily, He will radiate through me to others and my desires will become more and more attuned to His will and my life will be reflecting that I am a citizen of heaven more so than a citizen here- although not perfect..He is the center of my life-the lover of my soul..Daily I must replace the idols with Him.

  37. 5. My take away this week is simple..That I realized I have a whirlpool naturally bent on sucking in the wrong things to bring me comfort, peace, control, approval..It is there..My idols will always be there but I CAN and need to replace them with Jesus and HE gives me the longing for Him..the desire to do so!! HOW BEAUTIFUL IS THAT!! 🙂 I just have to quit being a little whiny baby not wanting to let go of my pacifier. 😉 This is a daily thing but I do think that as I cling to Him daily, His light will increase in my life and they will decrease..It is when I don’t confess my sin, when I don’t turn from it that I get caught up in this whirlpool cycle..Even then, there is grace and mercy to turn..even then He will rescue me and that draws me even closer makes me want to confess..makes me not want to go back to letting my idols have the affections of my heart..

  38. Ladies..This is one of the songs we are doing on w.t. Sunday…An awesome love song to Jesus. 🙂

    oops..put the wrong link..there is a better version here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8v_PWr98uuk

  39. My mom is here now so I only have a minute but wanted to give my take-away. There was a conversation with my mom where I was sharing a sweet tradition my husband and daughter have together and she snapped back with a terribly ugly comment…anyway, I realized it was her defensiveness because she cannot acknowledge what I did not have with my father…that would make her feel like a failure, so instead she put a negative spin on what my daughter has….all that to say, I realized how her empty, hungry soul, was sucking the good from mine. And in forgiving her, I see how many times I do the same thing. It’s not always as blatant, but there are times when my idol of pride is so jealous about another person’s ability, or appearance, that I find something negative to balance it out–like “well, she’s beautiful, but she isn’t home with her kids much…” and in the same way as my mom, my own soul hunger is trying to steal what someone else has to fill myself up, or to feel more equal.
    Oh goodness–this may be another foggy thought that only Rebecca gets through! So sorry, I am still learning how to articulate my thoughts onto web-world 😉

    But the take-away is this-if I keep my mind on Him, taking EVERY thought captive and seeing things through the light of an eternal perspective, I am filled up. I’ve been cling to this: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

    1. Wow Elizabeth, I just love your honesty and see how God is using this time with your mom as a mirror in a way to your soul, even though it isn’t totally the same, but I also see how tender He is making your heart toward your mom as a result. I think instead of focusing on her behavior you are looking at what might be going on inside instead. I think that is a huge mark of tenderness Jesus put in your spirit..this study has helped me to understand the human condition better and when I see the battle I go through daily with the voracious whirlpool and see the mercy and grace God extends to me, it sure makes it easier to extend that same grace and mercy to someone else who struggles with it also..as I see you doing..

      Also, I see you hungering more for Jesus and having him fill that whirlpool rather than longing for your mom or dad to. God is really at work in your heart, so encouraging to see!!

      1. oh Rebecca you are a gift! I had a friend named Rebecca years ago who was like an angel to me, and you so remind me of her–He just shines through you!
        Thank you for your encouragement–you have no idea how timely it was.Blessings my friend!

        1. Elizabeth, and YOU encourage me sis! Glory be to God for the body of Christ!!! 🙂

    2. nope! I totaly get it!! I do the same thing with saying things in my head like that. I also have the same thing with my parents. my dad will say something and I will just want to scream…….but then I realize that both my parents had to alter the past in order to be OK with it. when they see me doing what they always say they wanted to do it hurts to much so they just change things in their memory.
      this helps me love them and not want to strangle them:)

      1. “both my parents had to alter the past in order to be OK with it.”you nailed it cyndi–that is the story of my life! Mom pretended then (and now) that we were Leave it to Beaver…with so many masks we all had to wear…and unfortunately she still keeps her mask firmly planted on her. Fear keeps her grip tight on it. I feel like I have been in a process of dropping mine for over 20 years, since college days when I think He first really showed me, but it is still a process. To be vulnerable, broken, authentic. It requires such risk and trust–but as Susan said, there is no free-fall when we hold to Him. And only when we remove the mask can He shine through us and be glorified through me–what a gracious calling! I know it all in my head, I’ve experienced it even, and yet how easy it is sometimes to put that mask back on and perform!

    3. Oh Elizabeth, you have articulated so very well a very real struggle we all have; “I see how many times I do the same thing. It’s not always as blatant, but there are times when my idol of pride is so jealous about another person’s ability, or appearance, that I find something negative to balance it out, like well, she’s beautiful, but she isn’t home with her kids much… my own soul hunger is trying to steal what someone else has to fill myself up, or to feel more equal.”

      It’s a struggle I have. Just the other day, I was talking to a friend who went back to work full-time a few months ago, and we hadn’t talked in like 3 months. I was thinking things like well, I guess she’s moved on from me, afterall, I only work one day a week and I guess we don’t have anything in common anymore…at the same time I felt a little purposeless with my life but found the negative in her – ‘well, her two kids sit at home by themselves while she’s at work, she cares more about making money so she can buy stuff than her kids…’

      Trying to suck the good out of others to fill up my own space created by discontent, to feel better about myself.
      You shared a real pearl of wisdom. I see the growth in you though in how you recognized the pain in your mom’s life that led her to respond the way she did.

  40. Praying for you, Dee, as you prepare to speak at 9…. Praying for the Lord to prepare you and to quicken you, to speak through you…for the presence of the Lord to fill the place you are in and for a mighty moving of His Spirit…for hearts to be wide open to really hear, and for the words to take root in the soil of the hearts of the women there…for God to put a dome of protection right over this place to keep the enemy out….for women there who may not know Him, that today may be the day they are moved by the Spirit to join His family.

  41. 3.C. He continues to embrace worldly wisdom and wine, but adds to his quest in Ecc 2:3-11…list your discoveries and meditations here.

    verse 10 jumped out at me that it shows the danger of a sense of entitlement. Solomon says he denied himself nothing, because this was his reward for all his labor. If he saw something he liked, he got it; any form of pleasure, he didn’t deny himself because, afterall, it was his reward, he deserved it.

    I too can start down that road, of feeling, “I deserve this” or that I am entitled to it. It breeds thanklessness and ingratitude and pride and selfishness. I think the remedy is to go back to the Cross, and how I was when I came to the Cross, naked, undeserving, empty-handed.

  42. 4. A.

    It’s kind of frightening to read this and insert your name in there…

    What does Susan retain beyond the grave
    from all the work in which she, like a slave,
    consumes her days, as though this earthly life
    were all there is?
    What’s left from all this strife and struggle?

    As a wife and mother, I do feel that so many of my days are consumed by the unending work of cleaning, scrubbing, laundry, cooking, dusting, sweeping…..and those jobs are necessary to keep the family going! Somehow it feels so much more spiritual to spend my time reading the Bible, doing this study, praying, helping other people, spending time with God, but that’s not real life in that if I sit and read the Bible all day every day, things will fall apart! and the dishes need to be washed and my family needs to have clean clothing to wear…
    Unless I see the bigger picture in the everyday chores of life, unless I have balance, unless I invite God into the scrubbing and the cleaning; I must keep an eternal perspective.

    What blows my mind is that Solomon asked God for wisdom when God said He would give him anything he asked for, and God was pleased to give Solomon wisdom; God was pleased with his choice. Yet this very gift became his downfall; in Proverbs he seems to be applying the gift of wisdom God’s way, giving us godly wisdom and understanding, and in Ecclesiastes he’s like a different man. It’s like he became a living example of what not to do. And yet, what a gift Solomon leaves to us for writing down his experiences of turning to worldly wisdom and being so candid and real.

    B.

    I could not be content to stay within the orbit of His love.
    Instead I set a course – but now I am ahead of where I
    meant to be.

    I think this speaks of rejecting the sovereignty of God in your life. God is the One whom we orbit around, meaning He is the stronger, more powerful force; He is King, we are not. Like the earth orbits around the sun, it’s safe within its orbit, but if the earth went spinning out of its orbit, we would die because everything would change, our climate, everything.
    So we break free, rejecting God’s right to be in charge of our lives and set off on our own course, but it gets quickly out of control and we find we’re in a place we don’t want to be, never meant to be. Far away from the Son, and we’re not sure how to get back.
    With me, I often want to be the “Sun”, with everyone and everything “orbiting” around me.
    What strikes me is that God doesn’t exert “gravitational force” to MAKE us stay within our orbit; He lets us go if we really want to. Yet for His children, He still gives the gentle tugging to bring us back.

    Suffice it here to say that if this earthly life is dear
    to us (me) above all else, that is, if we (I) deny heaven’s
    claims upon our (my) lives and see ourselves (myself) as
    beings of this space in time and nothing more, then neither
    things sublime nor silly will cohere or satisfy,…

    If I choose to deny or reject God’s claim upon my life, then I will live my life in a free-fall, like floating in outerspace with no gravity, swallowed up in blackness, unable to be touched by the sublime, which is God’s touch, nor the silly, things of this world; nothing can stick together or hold together for me to grasp onto.

    I admire Solomon’s honesty in telling his son the truth that he’d tried it all, and it was all vain, like feeding on the wind.

    1. Susan, there is a wealth of wisdom in your words–thank you for sharing! I have re-read a few times and am gleaming so much from you–I think I need to post this over my toilets 😉 “unless I invite God into the scrubbing and the cleaning; I must keep an eternal perspective.”

  43. Love your thoughts Susan – it makes me think all kinds of things. I like your statement: “God doesn’t exert ‘gravitational force’ to make us stay within our orbit.” That statement made me start thinking about ‘gravitational force’, and I thought God doesn’t exert gravitational force but it is where I belong. I think the ‘gravitational force’ can be likened to God’s laws, when I obey and I am living within the boundaries God has set for me, I am grounded, I am operating within the orbit for which I was created. When I pull away, and go against the gravitational force, then I am freefalling out of control, going to places I was never meant and never wanted to go. Thanks for spurring my thoughts this morning, great thinking Susan! 🙂

    1. I like your thoughts, too! That God’s boundaries are our orbit where we are safe.