Well, here we go with another year. As the clock strikes twelve and we celebrate another year, you may pause, like me, and ask, "What will this new year bring? What is my life all about?" We make resolutions, lay out strategies to instill vitality and hope, while attempting to pump up our endorphins and dopamine levels to feel better about life and to simply help us make it through another year. We look to prophetic voices hoping they will declare a word of encouragement and promise that this will be a terrific year and all will go well. I've certainly entertained these strategies myself, and at times they have brought encouragement, especially when I experienced deep loss and needed strengthening. But in truth, even though we may declare and make resolutions for adventure and happiness believing our dreams will be fulfilled, life will undoubtedly throw us a challenge, disappointment, sorrow, sadness or loss. So right now you may be thinking with a little sarcasm, "Great message Becky!"

You know I'm not here to pop bubbles, but if you read and study scripture it doesn't take long to understand that life is beautiful but also teeming with challenges. If we gain wisdom through our life experiences as some suggest, then we can identify with the words spoken in Ecclesiastes by the author, whom scholars believe to be Solomon. He speaks in chapter one not only of the vanity and striving in life, but he ponders the futility of all endeavors while touching on life's sadness or pain. He found in his experience with much wisdom there was much grief and that increasing knowledge resulted in increasing pain (1:18). He also concluded that all his labor was only vanity and striving after the wind - all without profit (2:11).

Have you ever felt defeated in life like the author? I've certainly had moments of distress. Your journey may sometimes feel like a large slinky, stretch and spiraling round and round with a rhythmic pattern of rotations. Year after year cycling through this magnificent and yet perplexing journey called Life; filled with daily chores, household and work schedules, play schedules and appointments, while attempting to sprinkle a few plans for fun, refreshing, vacations, holidays or celebrations. "If I only had ......"

You see, the author tried all forms of worldly pleasure to attain wisdom and understanding to the meaning of life; including human achievement with the aspiration of greatness, as well as wealth, recognition or making an impact in the world. But he pessimistically concluded that all was emptiness, it was all vanity, as he scanned his works while observing the injustice in the world. We would probably diagnose him today as extremely depressed with an anxiety disorder as he shares his thoughts and wonderings, touching on the grave, while wrestling with his conclusion whether man is rich or poor, he ends up as dust. How easy it is to become cynical and discouraged when we try to write out our own story, dreaming and pursuing happiness greatness, only to find it can not fill the hole in our heart. We attempt to do all the right things and yet in one unsettling moment everything we have worked for evaporates and we, like Solomon, find our paradigms challenged. Even David cried out as found in the Psalms, in moments of conflict and despair, "God why do good men suffer and the wicked seem to prosper?"

Fortunately as we read on in this book there is good news! For after his search for life and working to attain pleasure through every form known to man, the author states his conclusion and his revelation to the real meaning of life - reverence and relationship with God (Ecc. 12:13-14). How profound and yet so simple. He states: "The conclusion, when all has been heard is fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil."

The author recognized that without God in the equation, all happiness is meaningless. He recognized how life can seem unjust and hopeless without a relationship with God. Through his wandering and wondering, Solomon found a great key to understanding. When God is at the center of your life, you will align with heaven and be guided and secure in His divine purpose. You will also find comfort and peace as you grow in understanding and wisdom, gaining the revelation that the treasures of this world are but a vapor, compared to a life centered in God which holds for you an eternal treasure.

What great wisdom and resolution the author of Ecclesiastes presents to us today as we begin this New Year 2017. Recognizing and returning to the only One who can truly fill the ache, the longing and emptiness in our hearts - our Father. He is softly and tenderly, waiting and watching, calling His people to come home to Him. Whether you are weary, discouraged, disappointed, lacking understanding or wisdom, fearful or just plain without vision, He is there waiting for you. Come home. Spend time with Him. He has wonderful plans for you and your life. Let Him walk with you an guide you through this exciting New Year and let Him reveal to you personally, the true meaning of your life.

Please know you are remembered in prayer and cherished as part of our Covenant family. I thank God for you and trust our Father will bless and keep you and your family throughout this coming year! In His love -