“I sometimes wonder if all pleasures are not substitutes for Joy.”
CS Lewis Surprised by Joy
It would be a lie if I said that I don’t envy youth, but, if I did say it, people would probably misunderstand.
Aside from envy being a cardinal sin, as mentioned in the Ten Commandments, that is not the point. The envy of someone or something rises to the level of sin when the desire for that something becomes an idol or a god itself. Although there are many who worship youth and try to vehemently fight off aging, that’s not my point.
It may be that I envy youth because I long for the strength, the beauty – the vigor. Maybe on some plane, but in my case strength and beauty were both elusive. No, if I were to actually envy youth, it would be for its time.
When you are young, you have a lot of time, at least that’s the belief of those who have youth (though we know that’s not always true). However, in most cases, youth does have time. At 50, I may have another 25 or 30 years left and it doesn’t seem like enough after all the time I’ve squandered.
In envying youth and the time it has, I speak of one thing. I crave the ability to do the one thing I now know is the only pursuit worthy of that time. And that is the pursuit of God. I wish every youth would understand the vanity of living for self, for pleasure, and not for God.
We all have an Ecclesiastes; that time when we tried different things, indulged in different pleasures, in an effort to find Joy. Solomon had greater access to all the inane pleasures the world offers, more than any other person who has ever lived, but we all have at least dipped our toes in the pool of ungodly pleasures which have no path to Joy.
Solomon had already rightly chosen wisdom (and by this I mean God) when he entered the quest; some are like this, I was. I gave God place in my life when I was nine. Many end their hunt for earthly pleasure when they find, and accept, God. Unfortunately, as was my case, all too few realize that only God provides Joy even if they have already trusted in Christ. Many will only accept the futility of seeking pleasure after they have erred awhile. Some seek that “under the sun” pleasure until they take their final breath.
So, in retrospect, I reject what I said initially. I don’t envy youth anything. If I was to be given back my youth, it would probably be without the benefit of my experience. In my Ecclesiastes, God has provided me at least one grace (in truth many); He has made me wise to the fact that seeking Him is the only true Joy. I sometimes wish I had more earthly time to discover Him, then I am aroused from that foolish thought. I realize that I have an eternity in which to fully know Him. Then my envy of youth, and their time, is quenched.
Understanding what I do now, having been through my fruitless search for joy apart from God, my Ecclesiastes, I look forward to the growing relationship and permanent Joy that is strengthened in my life every day. I can say without resorting to falsehood, that I do not envy the youth who is at the beginning of his or her quest. I can say, unequivocally, that each day’s burgeoning of that perfect relationship, is true Joy and Pleasure.
Have fun stormin’ the castle kids (that’s from The Princess Bride). If you’re as ignorant as I have been, you will run into many of the vain trappings of pleasure, but always realize that God is Joy. Hopefully your Ecclesiastes will be shorter than mine and you can spend more time reveling in Joy.