“Will you pray with me? There’s nothing else we can do.” I could hear a quiver in Paul’s voice. I’d known Paul most of my life, and this was the most vulnerable I’d seen him. His loved one was in the hospital and he was in the midst of dealing with all the potential outcomes. But amid the uncertainty and fear, Paul wanted to pray.
I met Paul when I was an impressionable teenager, and he was in his twenties. He taught me how to read ocean charts and weather forecasts, he helped me progress at surfing—he even took me on my first surf trip. He excelled at surfing, and led a Bible study for young people. His fun-loving spirit and his passion for God stood out to me. He traveled, he surfed . . . he seemed to always be having fun. But more than that, he loved the Lord and had a passion to help people, which stood in stark contrast to many of the surfers I looked up to at the time.
More than anything, Paul’s life modeled for me what it looked like to “remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come” (v. 1). I saw it in the way he lived. He read his Bible daily and he would often ask me if I wanted to pray with him. He made decisions not based on what was popular, but on what God’s Word said. He showed me the value of having a relationship with God, learning His Word, and keeping an open dialogue with Him.
As we keep reading in Ecclesiastes 12, the author suggests this is so important because of the fragility and transitory nature of this life—something that can be easily forgotten by those of us in our prime. He warns, “Then people go to their eternal home and mourners go about the streets. Remember him [your Creator] before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken” (vv. 5-6). These, and the surrounding verses, remind us that none of us are immune to the aging process, or miseries that may accompany it. We shouldn’t wait until we are older, or life goes awry to have a relationship with our Creator—we should remember Him now (even in our youth), before trouble comes, or our “spirit returns to God who gave it” (v. 7).
Through Paul’s life, I’ve witnessed the benefit of heeding this advice. He’s kept his relationship with God a priority as long as I’ve known him. Roughly 20 years after we first met, when he was faced with one of his greatest trials, it was no surprise to me that Paul wanted to pray. As we talked, I could hear the pain in Paul’s voice, but I was also taken aback by his calm demeanor. He didn’t focus on what he couldn’t control, and he didn’t panic or lose heart. Instead of blaming God, he trusted Him in the uncertainty. It was evident his steadfast faith was what provided him with peace in the midst of the storm.
Paul and his loved one would eventually make it through that trial, and in the process, show me how walking with the Lord, especially from a young age, can buoy us even in troubling times. The life Paul lives—the life of remembering our Maker—is a life of peace regardless of circumstances. It is a life knowing the truth of Psalm 130:7, “… hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.”
—By Daniel Hamlin, USA
Questions for reflection
- Think of someone in your life that has lived well in the fear of the Lord. What are some of the qualities of his or her life that have encouraged you?
- What are a few practical things you can start, or do more of, in order to invest in “knowing your Creator” at whatever stage of life you are currently in?