Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”— before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when people rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; when people are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags itself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then people go to their eternal home and mourners go about the streets. Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. – Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
Here in the last water-related passage in Ecclesiastes the author finally finds the meaning in this “meaningless” world. The “clouds return after the rain” and there is a time for everything under the sun. We sometimes feel oppressed by the worries of our lives here on earth but God has sent a comforter. It is up to us to find and remember Him.
This passage is expressing something that I have observed in people I have known and myself. When we grow older we become a more extreme version of ourselves when we were younger. This can be good or bad depending on how we invest our time and energy when we are young. If we invest in our relationship with God and our spiritual DNA then we are more likely to become closer to God and more like Him as we grow older. If we invest in this world and become bitter and separated from God then we will be come more so as we grow older.
It is up to us to “Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well” The water imagery here is amazing and rich. Let’s step into these waters and see what hidden wells may be here.
The pitcher is “shattered at the spring” sound like a metaphor for crossing over when we die. There is a very real sense that if we do not get experience fetching water from the spring while we have a pitcher, i.e. while we are alive on this earth, we may find it really hard to obtain water when that pitcher is broken (after we die). It is almost as if we need to get practice seeking God while we are here on earth so that when we go to the “undiscovered country” it comes naturally.
The phrase “The wheel broken at the well” is similar to a “shattered pitcher at the spring”. It is really difficult to obtain water from a well if you have a “broken wheel”, especially if you have never had to obtain water from the well with a “broken wheel”. I think in a spiritual sense we have a “broken wheel” while our souls inhabit bodies here on earth. It is difficult to obtain water from the “well” that is God while we are here on earth. It takes persistence, creativity, and tenacity — just like trying to get water from a well with a broken wheel.
In the end we all die…”and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” We must get good at accessing the One River and the well of eternal life while we are here in the land of Oblivion so that when our spirit returns to “the God who gave it” we are able to find Him.
Prayer: God thank you for teaching us to find water here on earth so that we can find You when our spirit returns to You.
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