I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.
At the end of pleasure (or the morning after), there is usually a headache, heartache, or an empty feeling. Even healthy pleasure is never going to fully satisfy. That’s what Solomon concluded. The person who had it all, could buy it all, and could do it all, learned that pleasure came to a screeching halt at the dead end of a street named “Vanity.” That’s what we all find, sooner or later.
Peggy Lee was an American jazz singer, songwriter, composer, and actress. In a career that spanned seven decades, she recorded over 1,100 masters and composed 270 songs. She was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1969 she won a Grammy for her song “Is That All There Is?” In one stanza, she tells of a night when her dad took her to a circus.
And when I was twelve years old
My daddy took me to the circus, the greatest show on Earth
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads
And as I sat there watching
I had the feeling that something was missing
I don’t know what, but when it was over I said to myself
Is that all there is to the circus?
Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
Many people long for life to be a circus of sorts, looking for entertainment and pleasure. That may include using your phone to scroll endlessly through YouTube, watching a daredevil drive her bike off the garage roof onto a homemade ramp that sends her flying into a swimming pool, or 100 interesting animal moments caught on camera. Seeking pleasure might drive you to drink, drugs, or sex. It may send you on a shopping spree, to a beach resort, or to the internet’s dark corners. But at some point, pleasure seekers ask themselves, “Is that all there is to the circus?”
The bottom line is this—without Jesus, any pursuit to fill an empty soul is futile. With Jesus, healthy endeavors that honor him deliver true joy. The apostle Paul said it this way, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Father, help me evaluate what I do for pleasure and entertainment. Help me determine if/how those things honor you. Empower me by your Spirit to engage in what will bring glory to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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