Food For Thought

*NOTE* you might want to click on the actual strip above to see it better. For at least the last 5 years, the website gocomics.com has delivered a Calvin and Hobbes strip directly to my e-mail daily. Needless to say, this is usually the best e-mail in the inbox every day. I used to enjoy these for the humor and artistry, but now that I have a couple of boys, I find that I enjoy them all the more, especially the remarks made by Calvin’s dad. So onto today’s comic. Here we find Calvin contemplating the brevity of his life. How often do we really place things in this perspective? Do we ask ourselves the same questions that Calvin poses? Are these even the right questions to ask?

1. Is our quick experience here pointless? This is one that I’m sure a lot of people wrestle with. Was Forrest Gump right that we’re just floating, accidental-like on the breeze or is there a reason why we are here? I take comfort in Jeremiah 29:11 where we are informed that “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” There’s nothing in that statement that sounds pointless (or unplanned!!) to me.

2. Does anything we say or do in here really matter? This is the sentiment expressed in the opening of Ecclesiastes:

All Is Vanity

 1The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
 2Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
3What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?
4A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.
5The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.
6The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind,
   and on its circuits the wind returns.
7All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow,
   there they flow again.
8All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
   nor the ear filled with hearing.
9What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
10Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.
11There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be
   among those who come after.

At the end of Ecclesiastes, however, the author comes to the realization that “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” This would argue that what we say and do really does matter.

3. Have we done anything important? This question will bring into light what you value as important. Some people will quote “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” What is more important than the relationships we have and the community we build? Raising our children to leave the home, be independent, and confident in their beliefs is my most important task as a father. Building up my wife to be a picture of the church is my most important task as a husband. Looks like I have a lot of work, but I am convinced that God is not calling me to be successful, merely faithful.

4. Have we been happy? Ask those in the public eye if striving after happiness as an end is working out. This is the law of diminishing returns.

5. Have we made the most of these precious few footsteps? Ah, the unanswerable question. The what if… My answer for today is to go home and play with my kids.

So, are we too involved in ourselves to stop and stare at that crack in the sidewalk every now and then? Dwelling on this is not usually profitable, but perspective can help. If I comment on another comic strip, I doubt it will be this lengthy.

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One Response to “Food For Thought”

  1. Jimmy Says:

    I like to pair that Ecclesiastes quote with the end of Pope’s Essay on Man: “And, spite of pride, in erring reason’s spite; One truth is clear, “Whatever Is, is Right.”

    So Calvin can step out of that concrete square. Trusting Providence.

    I know that sounds Calvinistic (as opposed to Arminianistic, not Hobbes-istic), but I’m being dragged that way.

    This is one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes strips. Thanks for bringing it to light.

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