“Surely every man walks in a vain show…”
Psalms 39:6 KJV
Last week I pushed down a tree with my bare hands. In case you are not yet impressed with this herculean event, the monster before me stood 30 foot high (having been broken off from an earlier conflict) and the base of the tree was bigger than I could put my arms around. Down it came with a thud. After beating my chest and howling at the daytime moon, I looked around to see that no one was watching. My chest fell as a deafening silence filled the air. There was no applause, no victor’s crown, and no reporters to write of my amazing feat. What I did see was a never-ending horde of carpenter ants pouring out from the stomp of the old fallen tree giant. A further analysis of my gloriously hollow victory brought to my mind a realization that I had simply pushed over a rotten tree that the wind would have eventually taken down in due time. It dawned on me, standing along the tree line of my property, that most of our efforts as human beings fall in the category of the generally unimpressive when compared with the feats of God Almighty.
The Psalmist cried out to ancient Israel, “Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath, surely a man goes about as a shadow.” The King James renders that verse in the following way, “Surely every man walks in a vain show.” The verses that proceed that startling conclusion speak about how short our lives are and the verses after about how futile it is to get riled up about the small things in life.
I am convinced, based on those verses, and the experience of living over 60 years in our present parade of life, that we all take ourselves much too seriously. We all tend to place our eyes on our own achievements and talents, and as a result, become too impressed with ourselves. In effect, we waste too much time riding on our own parade float, waiting for the adoring masses to recognize our ordinary accomplishments. Rather than discouraging us, this truth liberates our souls. The pressure to perform and please whoever we think needs pleasing is gone. The weight of life evaporates like a puff of smoke.
When you think about it, the only truly impressive thing in life is what God has done through His blessed Son to bring about the salvation of all mankind. When Jesus died on the cross, He pushed over the monster oak of sin with one hand. He then cut it at the root base and set fire to it. Soon it will be nothing but a pile of potash. He cancelled the penalty of sin in its fall, broke the power of sin when He cut its roots, and He will soon cause sin to flee our very presence forever. Rather than the rotten trees will push over in life, God should be our constant preoccupation and glory. His victory over sin deserves the victor’s crown.