Honest to God? after Ecclesiastes 5 Watch carefully your step when you draw near to God. Fools play at worship, coming to Him to be seen and heard, more than to hear. They tip their hats to God, and think they do Him some great service; but their sacrifice, such as it is, is worthless. So, if you would come to God, don’t think it just a nice thing to assuage your guilty conscience, and don’t pile on vows or promises, or dice your words. God knows, and God will understand your motives and designs. He will not let you use Him for your ends, for in His hand are earth and heav’n and all life. And yet He welcomes your approach, especially when you come to honor and adore Him. Set your heart to hear more than to speak, and then you’ll find Him. He is not a fantasy or dream, materializing only when preceded by so much activity. Activity provides the stuff of dreams; and fools are known by many words. So be content to listen for Him Who redeems those who seek Him sincerely. Then, when you declare your firm intention—as it seems to you—to do some work for Him, delay not to fulfill your vow. Fools make all kinds of promises to God, but seldom pay what they have vowed. But God Almighty finds no joy in fools. Pay what you vow, or do not vow at all, for foolish vowing blinds you to the truth, and makes you subject to the discipline of God. Do not allow your mouth to cause your flesh to sin, for who can save you then? And do not say your vow was all a big mistake, when someone sent to you by God inquires, observing how you’ve failed to keep your promise. God will vent Himself against your folly and your lies, and bring your cherished work to naught. Repent of all such vanity! The night-time skies are filled with empty dreams, but they amount to nothing; and the vows of him who cries by words, though they be more than you can count, will know more of God’s anger than His grace. Fear God! For this affection is the fount of wisdom. If you see before the face of God and men, oppression of the poor, the violent perversion and disgrace of righteousness and justice, to ignore this would be wrong, and just to wonder at it is no better. Evil from the floor to ceiling stretches where vain men have sat to judge the nation, foolish men who wink at one another’s wickedness, so that corruption spreads throughout the whole. You’d think that we would tire of this, and want to see our land abound in good, and not just sink more deeply in corruption’s mire. Are we all fools? We think we will be satisfied with wealth and ease; but this is vanity. When goods increase, and we hope to abide in happiness, then they increase who eat up all our wealth, and thus is peace denied us. For the sleep of working men is sweet, though they have much or little. But the man who trusts in wealth finds sleeping well a feat impossible to master. Nothing can console or comfort him against the fear of losing all he clutches in his hand so tightly. He might have a son, but here again, a son may bear his name, but he consumes the wealth the rich man holds so dear. The man who lives beneath the sun must see that nothing from his labors will remain with him, when it comes time for him to be committed to the ground. It is insane, and sorely evil, to spend all your days in works and projects, hoping you might gain by these some lasting peace and well-earned praise. You came into world with nothing, and you’ll exit it the same. And all your ways— your worries, all the labors of your hand— you’ll leave behind. And then in darkness you will eat the food of worms. So understand me; here is what I’ve seen: It’s good to do your work with satisfaction all the days God gives you underneath the sun, and to enjoy your food and drink. These are the ways of every man who hopes for nothing more than this world’s goods and pleasures, and who strays from God—though God is always there before him, blessing him with many gifts and good things. But as wealth increases more and more, instead of thanking God, as all men should, he fixates on his work and things, as though these were the means of any joy he could hope to obtain in life. He does not know that these things are from God, Who loves him so. T.M. and Susie Moore make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont. He is Principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, and the author of 8 books of poetry. He and Susie have collaborated on more than 30 books, which may be found, together with their many other writings and resources, including the daily teaching letter Scriptorium, at www.ailbe.org.