Vol.XIX No.IX Pg.4
November 1982

Learning To Enjoy Life

Robert F. Turner

Eccl. 11:9-10 is often interpreted as if Solomon was being slightly sarcastic ("Just go ahead then and sow your wild oats if you want to, young man, but, remember...") and then quoted to young people as a warning. Certainly the danger of "sowing wild oats" needs to be impressed upon the hearts of young people and a warning is indeed in the text. But is there not also a positive lesson that needs to be learned and practiced by the older generation as well as the young folks? Look with us at the context.

"The light is pleasant ... good for the eyes to see the sun ... if a man should live many years let him rejoice in them all... Rejoice young man let your heart be pleasant... follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes.... Remove vexation ... put away pain...

Solomon is saying that life is to be enjoyed (vss. 7-8; see also 2:24-25; 3:12-13; 5:18-20). And it is when we are young that this lesson can and should be learned, while at the same time learning about the serious side of life: accountability before God, the certainty of old age, death and judgement (vss. 9-12:8).

But in this process of learning to enjoy life there are some phases that young people will pass through which will be as frustrating to us as they are familiar. For example... have you ever heard a group of 15 year old girls giggle and seen their eyes roll to the back of their heads when they talked about or saw some boy? And have you ever known teen-age boys to do just a little "showing off" in order to get the attention of and impress some special girl?

And what is the all-too-often reaction of parents and other adults to this? "Grow up!... Act your age!" Well what do we think they are doing? They are growing up. They are acting their age. They are learning to enjoy life.

Perhaps a better attitude toward our young people would be to realize that giggling girls and boastful boys are as normal as the "peach fuzz" on junior's face and that the giggles of today will give rise, tomorrow, to further, more mature, expressions of enjoying life.

Perhaps a better way of treating young people would be to help them learn to enjoy life. Take the time to encourage participation in wholesome activities, teaching them all the while to stand in awe of their Creator and His day of reckoning. Trying to stifle natural and harmless frivolities of youth and at the same time belittling them for it won't go well with our attempts to instill respect for ourselves and God.

While these years are difficult and seem like an eternity in their duration, Solomon says, "childhood and the prime of life are fleeting". It will soon pass and, hopefully, our patience will be rewarded in years to come with sons and daughters who enjoy life, reverence God, and respect their parents. Grin and bear it, roll with the punches and, as much as anything, remember how it was when you were young and learning to enjoy life. David Smitherman