Unfulfilling Pleasure

Ecclesiastes 2:11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

Ravi Zacharias, a Christian apologist, tells the story of a discussion he had with CNN reporter Nick Charles.[i]  Charles had interviewed Deion Sanders not long after his Superbowl victory.  Sanders was one of the most gifted athletes ever, being the only athlete ever to compete in both the NFL and MLB championships.  Charles had heard that Sanders had become a Christian and asked him why he had made that decision.  Sanders explained that the night after the Superbowl win, he ordered the Lambourghini that he had wanted and sat in his hotel room realizing that he had attained every goal he had ever set for himself.  Astonishingly he said that at this pinnacle of life, he felt empty.  On that night Sanders gave his life to Jesus Christ.

G.K. Chesterton, a 19th century writer, wrote that:  “Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain. Meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure.”  Likewise, the wisest man ever to have walked on the face of the earth came to the same realization.  Take some time to read Ecclesiastes 2:1-11.  In this chapter we read of all the things that Solomon had done.  He undertook great projects building houses, planting vineyards, gardens and building parks.  He owned more flocks, and people than anyone before him.  He had singers and even his own harem.  In his own words, King Solomon confessed: “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11)

As an athlete you may have some great sporting goals.  Perhaps you desire a high school championship, a D1 college scholarship, a national or international medal.  Perhaps you desire to make the big stage as a professional basketball, baseball, football or soccer player.  You see the lavish lifestyle of the rich and famous athletes and you say to yourself: “if only I make it there one day, I know I will have have true happiness”.  If that is your goal, and one day you are lucky enough to achieve it, like Deion Sanders you will find what he and so many others found.  When you get to the top, there is nothing there.

God has formed you with far greater purpose than fulfilling earthly goals.  God can most certainly use professional athletes or Olympic gold medallist to glorify Himself, however those achievements are means to an end, not the end in itself.  I encourage you to challenge yourself, be honest and determine whether you are craving fame, fortune or even the pursuit of an athletic goal, with the expectation that achieving it will fulfill you.  Your true fulfillment, your true joy, will only come through a pursuit of your creator.  Spend time with God and determine what your true Mission Statement is here on earth and make sure that your other pursuits are not distractions to that mission, but rather a means to fulfilling your true purpose.

[i] “What is Worthwhile Under the Sun, Part 1”.  Let My People Think Podcast.  Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM).  July 8, 2017.

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