M.N.D. Daily life.

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Month: December, 2017

Darkness.

Darkness: what is it?

‘That’s easy’, you might say, ‘we all know what darkness is’.

Darkness is all about not having light. Putting on odd socks, no colours, feeling for texture, falling over furniture, stepping on the cat.

Groping for the light switch, searching for light, any light.

A camouflage of ebony, greys and chocolate browns. Feeling; the feeling when ‘brown’ is rolled off the tongue.

A Rembrandt, a Night Watch, threatening rather than pretty.

A time of day, the twilight, darkness pressing in, probing for an opening; oppression, circling, besieging.

A thug with a cudgel of fear, a battle maul of terror rather than a sniper.

An enemy approaching silently by night, setting siege. A large undefined encircling army, slowly choking life out of the city, breaking doors with battering rams all the while threatening to disembowel. Once in, he strips and leads off in bondage to slavery.

Darkness hides in the way setting a snare, digging a pit for the unwary; ambushes, clubbing and robbing. He leaves damaged bodies and minds, a thief and murderer.

Living in a den, a cave, an abyss with idolatry, adultery and fornication. Women of the night, mediums and sorcerers for companions. Not only evil but using it.

Destruction and ruin walk along the valley of the shadow of death in darkness.

Darkness has owls, bats and jackals; raven winged creatures of the night as familiars. The mole and the badger deep and blind as companions.

Hidden things, deep sayings, parables, enigmas, riddles and dark sayings; lies, deceit and treachery cover up speech.

Darkness is the prophet with the fire in his bones who does not open his mouth. The uncovered word broods in darkness.

The valley of the shadow of death, abyss, the great deep, the impenetrable pit of blackness where the shroud of depression snuffs the candle of hope.

Inhabited by dreams with visions, nightmares and horror, things not seen.

Autumn and winter, trembling, driving all before, shaking, the leaves of cocksureness, the shakeable things shaken.

Faith not revelation, faith in the face of the walls pressing in.

Darkness hides, covers, conceals, a veil that shields, in common with all tribulation, a driven wedge, dividing, separating, forcing decisions, driving change.

 

It ploughs with a dark ox at midnight, turning over fallow ground. Scattering seed by moonlight watered by evening dew.

 

Darkness dwells inside of you. The woman waiting within, the womb holding a mustard seed, the kernel germinating in in the deep. The womb waiting to give birth, pregnant with possibility. Creation, water, formation, structure, something from nothing. New birth, new life, hope in despair.

A woman, ‘Travail’ birthing a germ, a yeast spore, an idea hidden. The whole universe, the whole of creation wrapped up, concealed; waiting. The unspoken, mysterious, unwritten, silent, unrevealed Word.

 

Darkness, a miner, a digger, a revealer of secret treasures.

Suspended over nothing in the cavern of the mind digging for hidden secrets of the heart. A breaker of rock, a tester of metal, a diviner of deep things. Darkness the crucible, the foundry, the refiner, the smith.

 

There, now you know all about darkness.

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Zuam and Ramaphosa. South Africa.

Zuma: not the problem.
What amuses me is the way people think that if the Zuma goes the problem will be fixed… I am an old ex-factory worker who is looking at the frenzied hand wringing about whether Cyril Ramaphosa can save South Africa. I am a practical, non-academic man who was definitely not overqualified for the box-packing I did but at the same time have my feet on the ground.
I laugh at the wise men that focus narrowly on a particular aspect of South Africa’s woes and tell us, change the president, change the Minister of Finance, get rid of the ANC and everything will be fine.
Sorry for you if you think SA is going to improve.
We have a national IQ of 72 or 77 (depending on who you believe). This is on a par with the rest of Africa south of the Sahara.
IQ is directly related to income and a host of other critical criteria.
People with low IQ scores are more likely to drop out of school, have low educational qualifications, high rates of teenage pregnancies, single parent families, alcoholism, drug abuse, violent crime and incarceration rates.
Our IQ levels are not about to change overnight.
Stats SA informs us that upwards of 60% of families are headed by single females.
The absence of fathers ensures perpetuation of the ills as children from single parent families tend to fare worse financially and academically than those with both parents.
Hence, 17 million are on social grants. This figure is going to climb as a free ride becomes expected. Expectation of a handout, a pervasive sense of entitlement; out of step with our ability to provide is the norm. A wealthy country like the UK could not afford this burden.
There are more in our country on grants than there are employed. (I read the article incredulous.)
Now try this one: only 1,8% of private individuals are paying 80% of the tax bill, 3% are paying 99% of the tax, 36% are unemployed (67% of under 25 year olds) and 17% have Aids. This speaks of a rocky future.
South Africa has high birth rates; something like 1.7%, falling skilled numbers, (the highly skilled are emigrating faster than they are qualifying) falling educational standards and this makes the problem worse because now the population is not only unemployed but unemployable. Who needs an engineer that is an AA appointment building a bridge that you go under? Who wants a doctor that passed by push and shove, got 30% and is going to operate on your heart?
The teaching profession is in crisis with teachers teaching subjects that they themselves cannot pass. Truth is the DBE cannot produce accurate figures for teachers unqualified to teach specialist subjects like maths and science because they pay unqualified teachers the same as qualified ones if they have been in the system for more than three years. Grading teachers on their qualification and linking performance to pay for teachers is anathema to SADTU as they are not about to lose benefits.
A recent study of grade 4’s found that 80% could either not read or didn’t understand what they had read.
Zuma’s latest populist move of announcing free higher education is the act of someone detached from reality as even his finance minister told him… there is no money to pay for it.
Over 100 000 teenage pregnancies per year, the world’s highest rate, in our schools adds a burden to the country and stymies the next generation. Held hostage by a predatory trade union that sells jobs for favours the DBE is frightened of the statistics so does not produce them.
Prof Jansen calculated that the average teacher spends 42 days of the year in the classroom and recently the department admitted that OBE was not working at all. There is no incentive to actually teach a class and with the work ethic lacking the outcome is predictable. Teachers sit in the staffroom or in the sun and sleep.
Productivity and employment levels make sobering reading for the hopeful. truth is, we are a lazy people that lack work ethic.
The work ethic in our land is lacking; this makes us uncompetitive. Lethargy is pervasive and incurable as it is not taught but inherited. Africans from the rest of Africa have no trouble in displacing locals despite their refugee limitations. Along with work ethic there is the parallel lack of entrepreneurship. Pakistanis and Indians despite not speaking English and being totally uneducated soon establish thriving businesses. Starving Somalis are resented because they set up and run retail shops despite having just arrived with nothing from war torn countries. We south Africans stand dumbfounded asking, how can this be, why can’t we do it?
We have a handout mentality, shocking work ethic and are, to put it plainly, a bit thick.
We have a ballooning debt, both private and public, rapidly expanding public sector employment falling productivity and employment in the job creating private sector.
Add to this a decaying, shrinking manufacturing sector, strikes and constant service delivery protests, riots, burning; a police force that cannot cope with ‘normal’ much less lawlessness and you have a recipe for disaster.
The police service leadership has been hollowed out by corruption, dishonesty, gangsterism and constant changes at the top. Each change brings a slew of unqualified cadre deployed cronies worse than the previous lot and the result is good people leave discouraged. To add to this there is a small well-funded, determined section of the population who stoke the fires of racial hatred in a land that is always on the edge of the abyss.
The trend in SA is for property prices to fall in areas outside of the Western Cape. This is a problem for those collecting property tax and therefore delivering services as revenues decrease. Gauteng recently announced that their infrastructure is on the verge of collapse. they have a 170 billion shortfall. That is big money.
SARS revenues will continue to decline as citizens see the wastage and corruption and resolve to pay as little tax as is legally possible. This will exacerbate the problems caused by the recession and corruption.
As comrade Pravin says ‘connect the dots’. The damage done is not undone by firing a corrupt minister. When a cat has pissed in your lounge, removing the cat does not solve the problem. Every other tom in the district says, ‘is this where it is done? Is this how its done? I will follow the lead’. Africa.
We have a problem that is insoluble without courageous, bold, decisive, leadership. As this is entirely lacking in our opposition apart from those they fire for telling the truth; don’t expect miracles.
As for the government … the great white hope ‘Squirrel’ is without nuts. In parliament they have proved themselves lockstep lackeys.
The vital areas of governance are occupied by appointees that are at best under qualified and at worst totally unfit and corrupt. Courage, qualification, ability, suitability is lacking and despite this being blatantly obvious no remedial action is taken. The result is the blind are leading the blind and both are falling in the ditch at every turn.
Big business is a eunuch: dispensing loans that it knows will never be repaid as strategic investments. (Protection money) As one Old Mutual (Nedbank) castrate said to me, ‘do you expect me to be the conscience for a company? They won’t thank me, they will bury me. We write the loan off and nobody is the wiser. I will retire and nobody gets hurt.’
Don’t expect it to get better as time goes by. People learn fast, this is the way that business is done in Africa. The big arms dealers all work on this basis.
Change? Mountains don’t fall upwards. Entropy takes over. Fact is, SA is diseased and will devolve to the state of the rest of Africa.
If you have nowhere to go. If this is your land, your only country, this is what I suggest: get used to Africa.
Sorry to pop your bubble; South Africa is heading further down a long dark tunnel and the light you see at the end is actually the train from Venezuela via Zimbabwe.
Although this essay might be a bit depressing it is also a spur.
If you are not an entrepreneur; now is your chance to spread your wings. Tourism and exports will boom with the plunge in the Rand.
If you’re not too particular about a bit of bribery there will be great opportunities for importation as the manufacturing sector contracts.
Although RW Johnson suggests that the violent revolution and upending of society might be a likely scenario the more likely outcome will be a Erdoğan Tayyip pseudo coup to sort out the opposition, chase the whites off the land and embed the Zuma dynasty before he has to face the courts.
What I see is not a bang but a Zimezuela whimper. A running sore, begging bowl end that the world will put down as the legacy of apartheid… what did you expect?
If you have a faith and hope outside of this materialistic world, you are going to get ample opportunity to exercise it. Tell yourself that it is God testing your mettle. It is more about how we react to this country’s woes that will define us as people. As my Father used to say, you only see if the toothpaste actually has stripes when the tube is squeezed.
You have heard of Radical Economic Transformation? It is coming and it is not the ANC that will implement it from on high. RET is a consequence of ineptitude, poor education, corruption and big chief government that results in the pie shrinking and the pieces getting smaller with more and more starving folk fighting for crumbs.
You know what I am telling you is true but it gives us hope to think that if only the Guptas are arrested and Zuma is ousted everything will be A ok; now you know the truth; Zuma is not the problem and Ramaphosa is not the solution.

Suicide.

Suicide.
Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.
What makes a man fall on his sword, what makes a man choose suicide? 1Sa 31:4, 5;
What I want to arrive at is some understanding of what underlies this act that runs so contrary to human nature’s will to live. Suicide is a dark seductive tunnel. I want to go into this unapproachable dark hole and hopefully emerge changed.
Saul chooses to fall on his sword rather than the alternative. Samson pulls the house down round his head.

Having just emerged from a prolonged period of wanting to commit suicide I can tell you that it is like falling into a mill race. A dense, stream, concentrated, channelled tight to fast force feed water to the mill wheel. A narrowing of the way, a pinching that forces great volume through a narrow gap.
We get a number of parallels in scripture. Balaam’s donkey forced through an opening between two walls crushing Balaam’s foot… Johnathan and his armour bearer passing through the two sharp rocks on the way to the Philistine garrison. Then in Greek the word synechó gives us further insight into the forces that assail one when suicide is contemplated. It speaks of a lump of clay being pressed in the hand, a besieged city, a ship being forced through a narrow channel coursing with tide, a crush pen for cattle, a prisoner held; unable to move. It also speaks of someone who is surrounded by business as well as being afflicted with sickness and suffering.
Paul talks about being pressed… by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. The image of the olive press; the weight of stones, oppression till the oil emerges drip by drip. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. The pips squeak! This is a point of decision, this is being on the horns. This is having a stake up the bum, fearsome pain, wriggling and knowing that it is getting deeper and deeper but it is so sore you cannot stop. What we are looking at here is man dangling over the fire pit. But this figurative language means little. Phl 1:20-23;
Sampson, Saul, Ahithophel real men; allegories of where tribulants find themselves.
Sampson… one can speculate; he must have felt hopeless, his one chance of being active in vengeance upon those who had taken his sight, freedom and strength lay in destroying enemies in an act of self-destruction. The tribulation he suffered made him prefer death rather than life. One can also speculate that he felt a sense of frustration at himself, blind, bound, he had mucked up his life’s calling, humiliated at being duped, reduced to being a baited bear, he wanted out. The future is bleak and holds only disgrace, pain, suffering and humiliation; he chooses suicide.
Terminally ill patients face similar tribulation: death a certainty; pain, trouble, incontinence and the humiliation of loss of independence awaiting them, choose to end their lives. In this press the question is asked. Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; Job trapped like Sampson and Saul: The past was glorious but has been swallowed up by darkness. The present, humiliating and unbearable; vexation, frustration, encircled by pain, we are forced to ask, why? In this state we look at the present and the future and compare one against the other. We would not do this in the rose garden with chocolate croissants and coffee..

Job 3:20;
The realisation that the present is transitory. The ‘present future’ is hopeless. Trapped in a body less than perfect they see the only way to ‘eternity future’ is through death.
Job gives us a portal to this world: the ‘present future’ is hedged off; hope replaced with darkness. He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths. Job is a tree uprooted; life desiccating… no hope, the future is black. To carry on in the light of the circumstances makes no sense: I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity. my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life. Crying out for death along with Moses: kill me, I pray thee, out of hand… Until one has been in this narrow strait it is madness to hear a man call out to God: Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!
Death is preferable to life and to have died in the womb far better than this life of misery.

Job 3:23;

Job 7:16;

Job 7:15;

Num 11:15;

Job 6:8, 9;
Once proud men choose death when humiliated by having their wisdom rejected; Old, sick and those who have had a change of status find themselves on the outside. But it is more than this: men get their sense of purpose, self-worth, identity, their self-image from their work. When this work is removed their purpose for living disappears. To find that your best offering is scorned, the best work torn down and cast to the swine, or even worse not even looked at is humiliating and demeaning. Frustration and vexation of spirit results in wanting to tear the whole house down.
Suicide is not just in the physical, it has parallels in the soul and spirit. The ‘erets’ of the spirit destroyed as surely as cutting your throat.
O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; Holy Land destroyed by sin and degrading of the body, realisation that Holy Spirit has left, a sell out to the world; suicide. Hos 13:9;

Isa 14:20;
Suicide and requests for death are surely only for the rebellious sinner? The good guys never suffer the warfare of wanting death; right?
Wrong: the tribulations of life become too much for even the heavies of scripture: Moses, Elijah, Job, Jeremiah Jonah, Simeon, Paul, (this is a quick incomplete list. I suspect that Isaiah would be added to this list if I did the digging but it gives you an idea) all wanted death rather than their present with the contemplation of what was still to come.
Let’s bring this home, to your world, out of the storybook bible of then; let’s talk you, now.
Contemplate a slow painful death, a death that humiliates and grinds dignity like a mill: Adult nappies, bum wiped by strangers, loss of independence, privacy and dignity, being fed like a baby, trapped in a wasting and wilted body, incontinence, bed sores, projectile vomiting, racked with pain, without any way to escape. No way to turn in bed without more pain. Lie still and the ache increases. To be turned, touched is agony.
Add to this the pressure of family that are cash strapped, financially and emotionally bleeding, paying for care; pressure from without and within, unable to cope with the mind games, running from reality… finding a way out becomes urgent.
To this add family that resent the extended life of the terminally ill; the interminable sitting on the edge of the cliff looking down into the abyss, wanting a result one way or the other to end the tense wait. I wonder if I should give him a push?
Families tired of waiting for death, want to get on with their lives resent the ball and chain that bed ridden relatives represent; a drain on precious finance, limiting freedom, often an embarrassment. The inheritance dribbled away on a hopeless cause. Enough, just die!
It is no wonder euthanasia is becoming popular with the terminally ill and their families. There being no prohibition on suicide in so many words in scripture. Thou shalt not kill. We find that the bible understands suicide and accommodates it better than the church does. God has compassion rather than judgment for the suicidal. There is no judgment for suicides, it is regarded as death not self-murder. No judgment and definitely not for one who is under grace and not law. The church has a hard-arsed attitude to suicides; separate burial grounds and no church service… but we don’t find this in scripture and I would welcome anybody who holds a different view to help me by pointing out the references to me as I might have been blinded by my need to justify suicide within myself. Thou shalt not kill. this seductress lures me in In the twilight, in the evening of the day, In the middle of the night and in the darkness.
… a woman With the attire of a harlot, she caught him, and kissed him, …I have spread my couch with carpets of tapestry, With striped cloths of the yarn of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed With myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning;
Logic tells us that our bodies are not ours to dispose of when we choose; they are the temple of the Lord no matter what state they are in.
Friends have pointed out that no matter what the state of the body and the mind we glorify God by our mere existence.
In conclusion: suicide is a reaction to failure and regret in the past.
It is about present pain and failure.
Lastly, the expectation of pain, humiliation and degradation of a hopeless future.

Mat 5:21;

Pro 7:9-18;

Relevance?

Relevance.
My wife of 40 years moved out to a flat of her own. I in turn moved to a flat above the kitchen.
My move seems a long way from Ahithophel.
Not many people know of Ahithophel. He was a chosen advisor to David and Absalom. He was a leading Israeli thinker in David’s time. His name has disappeared down the drain hole of history.
One minute he was the trusted advisor to King David, the next he was not worth hearing and had become superfluous, his advice rejected and his opinions spurned. Ahithophel became irrelevant.
God gives us Ahithophel to show us in stark terms what happens to men when their name becomes irrelevant.
This might seem like a leap into the dark but stay with me as I explore this topic as I am battling with my irrelevance. You might in the future have to deal with it in your life. What we discover together may help you in the future.
Name, names.
Each of us has a name. We have a name that fixes us in place in time and space. This is a name we have when we are born.
We also have a name that is created by effort, wisdom, learning and foolishness. This name alters and changes with achievements and failures; sculpted by life, mans’ name alters as triumph and suffering do God’s work. God also gives us a name and status.
There is also a name that we take on when we enter Christ. We take on the name of Christ when we are baptised into Christ.
It is this name that ultimately counts.
Ahithophel had a name in Israel: Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God. That was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice. Ahithophel’s name was firmly established and attached to the position he had as king’s advisor.
His status was due to be changed.
Ahithophel joined Absalom’s rebellion which put him against David.

2Sa 16:23;
David uses Hushai to help him frustrate Ahithophel’s council… but at the same time, David prayed, “LORD, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.” God determined to bring disaster on Absalom and turned Ahithophel’s good council to nonsense. Absalom disregarded Ahithophel’s advice.

2Sa 15:31;
The result was that Ahithophel was crushed; caught between the two he simply became irrelevant. To be rejected is bad but to be ignored is worse. To be disrespected is terrible but worse still is to be insignificant: dust on the scales, not mattering one way or the other.
Ahithophel realised that he no longer had influence at court. He was disregarded.
In the time we live in it is easy to ignore people. We do this when we read an email and don’t reply or when we look at our phone and on seeing a person’s name press, ‘cancel’. We are too busy, we make a judgment call; there are more important things… we don’t need to be disturbed, we rank the person as an outsider.
This is a form of murder, blotting out the name.
Insiders and outsiders.
Acidophil moved from being the ultimate insider to being totally on the outside.
Ahithophel’s advice was logical, rational, well ordered and well-argued. In fact, his advice was better than Hushai’s but it was rejected. Ahithophel’s advice had not suddenly got poorer. Hushai’s advice had not suddenly got better what happened is that men’s opinions had changed. In the eyes of men and God Ahithophel had lost relevance.
In that instant Ahithophel died: When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb. 2Sa 17:23;
What I have experienced in moving to my cosy, convenient flat is that I am out of sight, out of mind, I disturb no one and nobody disturbs me. My wife comes to pay the obligatory visit once a week, supplies me with fresh food for the coming week. She sits, listens, nods and occupies the time till it is time to go. My son who has taken over the house, comes too. He stands outside and enquires ‘do you need anything’ and then leaves. What I ask myself is wrong with that? I am lucky to be in a position of having a solid roof over my head, food in my belly and a warm dry bed to sleep in.
The problem is that I have lost a name and respect.
It no longer matters. It no longer matters when I get up, if I get up, when I go to sleep, when I eat, when I fall or when I die.
My life has reached a point where many elderly people find themselves: I remember my mother’s doctor prescribing Premarin at the age of 88. Premarin is a hormone replacement. At the age of 80 you no longer need hormone replacements. When asked why? He replied that it made her happy and it would not make any difference to her at this stage. He was patronising her. He patted her hand, smiled and told her what she wanted to hear.

Life’s a breeze!

In advance I warn you that I will be trying to impress on you that life is short, fragile and soon gone through repeated returns to the same melody. Like a song that has a number of variations on a single theme. I don’t do it because I think you are thick or because I don’t have the sense to realise that I am basically repeating myself. If you are like I am; your head will comprehend first time round. Your heart will however revolt and push back, rejecting the truth of scripture. You ask, how do you know this? I know because when I see scripture repeated on the same subject it is telling me that God is talking to obstinacy and blindness. I know this because it is human nature. None of us wants to know.
Thou dost sweep men away; they are like a dream, like grass which is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. For all our days pass away under thy wrath, our years come to an end like a sigh. The years of our life are threescore and ten, or even by reason of strength fourscore; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Having just proclaimed the brevity of life the psalmist asks God on behalf of all humanity: So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. What is he asking for since he obviously knows the answer? Psa 90:5, 6, 9, 10;

Psa 90:12;
Dr Samuel Johnson said: “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” This is what the psalmist is asking for: LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.
When we break through the young man’s delusion of invincibility and immortality realizing that we are frail, it comes as a shock but the wake-up is invaluable to us going on.
Fragility, frailty, the temporary nature of life gives us perspective. It seems as though we have the answer to the question we asked but somehow it is all too obvious. It does not satisfy me.
Any fool can tell you that he will die. Any idiot realises that nothing lives forever; everything that breathes has a lifespan; nothing is permanent.
We don’t need a psalmist to tell us that we are frail and fragile so what is being asked for?

Psa 39:4;
Life is transitory.
The ephemeral nature of life became very obvious: they [were but] flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. Scripture refers to the life of man as being effervescent, frail, transitory… mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes, a passing shadow, a passing wind. Something as transitory as a dream. You may well be asking ‘why is this guy quoting more scripture on the same subject’. Truth is you have not got it. You like me equate head knowledge with heart knowledge. The two are not the same and that is what the psalmist is asking God to teach us.
Life is separated from death by a single breath; a sigh and it is gone.
The transient and frail nature of man is both a blessing and a curse. Job 11:16;
Jas 4:14;

Psa 144:4;
Psa 78: 3, 39;

David, Solomon and Job look and see men occupied with work, worry, eating, drinking, comedy and laughter, social climbing and achievement, love, marriage, mourning, death and conclude; they are vanity, a breath, vapour, without substance, a vexation of spirit.
They look at life and come to the conclusion that it is a chasing after the wind. A vapid void devoid of meaning. A black hole drained of purpose that defies description when seen in the light of The Almighty. Realising that what you pour life and soul into for 70 or 80 years is pointless, an exercise in futility, is tribulation. It really upsets us to know the purposelessness this life. Is this all there is? Job 16:22;
Job 14:2;

For what do they care for their houses after them, when the number of their months is cut off? Men are allocated a certain time on earth and when that time is up they are cut off. Job 21:21;
You don’t have to be very bright to realise that nobody can live and not
see death; who can escape the power of the grave? So what are you working so hard for? What is so desperately important that you are pouring your life into? Psa 89:47, 48;
The consensus is that trees resprout when chopped down; men do not; finite, they rot, decay and are found no more. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;
In the same way the universe as we know it will eventually cease to exist, be folded up and put away like a garment in a drawer. There is a limit to man and his universe. There is no limit to God either in time or in creativity. Something inside of you must be saying, ‘yes, I see life is short and eternity is long’. Perspective gives insight.
Job 14:5;

Job 13:28;

Psa 39 asks the same question.
David asks: “LORD, let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is! Behold, thou hast made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing in thy sight. Surely every man stands as a mere breath! Surely man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nought are they in turmoil;
Either David was a manic depressive obsessed with darkness or he was onto something far deeper. I think that the latter is true.

Psa 39;4-6;
A constant thread runs through David’s psalms: Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all humanity! Who can live and not see death, who can escape the power of the grave? Psa 89: 47, 48;
It comes as a surprise to some that there are only so many summers in a life and then… their days vanish like a breath, and their years in terror… they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.
Caught up in the froth of life it is easy to forget that we are nothing but a breath from eternity, a fart in the night, a burp in the meal of eternity. Psa 78:33, 39;
A breath, a breeze.
Life is described as breath, a gentle breeze, a breath from the mouth, effervescent, frail, transitory and thus vain and empty.
Men then, were so much more familiar with death; they realised that life and death are separated by an exhalation.
David was a brave man, prepared to confront himself , his frailty, his death and the darkness; that is uncommon in our day. As if by confronting the darkness within us we might wake the slumbering giant, we tiptoe with our hands pressed tight round our mouths. There is a saying in Afrikaans ‘moet nie spoke opjaag nie’ which is basically, don’t go looking for problems but carries an added dimension of the supernatural. Many of us today are too frightened to look at the darkness that surrounds us,the darkness within in case by looking, we stir to life and make manifest some force that otherwise would have slept.
I find this particularly among those who have been touched by darkness in the past. Instead of asking, teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom, we prefer to skip with the unicorns under rainbows singing la-la-la.
If you are not long for this world a mist, a vapour that is soon to pass away why are you pursuing empty things?
I am a bit heavy for polite society: my voice, walk and stature advertise my frailty. People sense, ‘here is a man who is not long with us’.
I was sitting with a young man and when he realised that I was not drunk or retarded, able to listen; he told me of his fear of death. On the day of the winter solstice he rejoiced in the birth of a new spring, the changing of the seasons, his vitality, his strength and virility with testosterone and good looks. He perceptively did a little sum in his head as he sat bathed in the sunlight of a new year. He calculated that he might live till the age of 80, if lucky. He subtracted his age and came up with a number of 56 which shocked him. 56 more summers, You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer. For soon I must go down that road from which I will never return.

Psa 90:12;

Job 16:22;

“How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! We blossom like a flower and then wither. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear. You have decided the length of our lives. Job 14:1, 2, 5; NLT

Their worm does not die.
Rereading Commando by Deneys Reitz it occurred to me: Synthetic materials that we take for granted nowadays were not available then. Men had their clothing and shoes literally rot away while they wore them, naked within months as worms and bugs ate clothing on them. If the weather was damp for weeks, their clothing, shoes and saddles would turn to slime and flow away.
The death of men and animals in war underlined their frailty. And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is moth eaten.
A maggot, a worm bred on rotting flesh and dead bodies has real life. Maggots, death and rotting within the heart of man, a worm that will never die eating from inside to out. The rapid breeding of maggots and their persistence in following dead flesh is inescapable.
There is no denying corruption of flesh when maggots are swarming and the stench is pervasive. We along with Job declare our fleshly nature corrupt: My flesh is clothed with worms … The worm of conscience and condemnation keeps eating till collapse follows, the soul hollowed out.
We on the other hand have the idea that we are eternal. We surround ourselves with things that last. Stainless steel and glass, synthetics and plastics.
Ancient men realised that all that surrounded them was temporary and the wiser ones realised that even the sun, moon and stars were a tableau: They will perish, … they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded… the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies.
We regard the ancients as dim folk that knew less than we do and yet they had a better grasp on death and destruction than us. They knew that man is temporary, fragile and transient. This is another lesson taught to the psalmist. In the light of God, man and the earth he lives on is dust on the scales; soon wiped off. The heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.

Job 13:28;

Job 7:5;

Psa 102:26;

Isa 51:6;

2Pe 3:10;
I know that you are by now saying enough already: we got the message, we are fragile and frail and we are all going to pass away. Trouble is I know you. You, like me want a head lesson. It takes a while for the heart to catch up with the head. The word is speaking to your heart. Meditate on the word…

Weakness and strength.
Christ Jesus associates himself so closely with our sufferings and weakness that the weak, sick, poor, prisoner and lame are in fact him. I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. These outside of the light, those found in the darkness that God uses to bring frailty to our senses are Christ in the flesh.

Mat 25:43, 44;
Part of the good news of Christ is the healing of the sick and ministering to the weak.
Christ died to set us free, to heal us body, soul and mind. Jesus healed many as did the apostles. Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. Weakness and frailty of body and mind a vehicle that delivers Christ to man.

Mat 8:17;
I don’t believe everything I write or think; I use the scriptures deceitfully twisting them to my will, fitting them to my circumstances, my fears and desires; so I sit and ask: is what I am saying logical, acceptable and truth. Am I just cherry-picking scripture to make a point or is there a rhythm and continuance to what is said. You see, I am like you, I use scripture to cope; the flesh is weak. I prop up my idols, my little creations using God’s word.
Once I came to the conclusion that what I had said was right I then sat and thought… this chimes with my life and sickness. What came next was the surprise.
I sat and said: so if that is the end of man; what a waste. Is this all there is? Is this the fate of every living creature? Everything destroyed, eaten by something else, returned to the dust. What a waste, surely there must be some purpose beyond living to die?
Perspective arrives.
Eternal life.
Man is frail and is subject to sickness of the body, morals and mind… because of the infirmity of your flesh: It is not just the frailty of the flesh material. It is the frailty of the soul, the rational, the logical, the decision making; the walls of thought that we put around us. There is purpose to the destruction of the protective fortifications we surround ourselves with.
Rom 6:19;
Our Lord felt for the sick and empathized with the weakness of sickness. Out of this empathy he healed the sick and commanded the apostles to do the same. We find the apostles healing the sick and comforting them.
The apostles and early believers had the same compassion for the weak that Jesus demonstrated. They cared for the weak in body and in faith.
There were plenty of weak and sick apostles and few were healed miraculously. Where does this leave us who are frail? Where does it leave the faithful Christian who believes in divine healing and prays for it? Where does it leave the faith based churches who Sunday after Sunday slap their hands and command healing in Jesus name?
It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
Paul realizes that there is more than meets the eye, my strength is made perfect in weakness. Rather than God gaining glory in our victories and strength, he manifests in our weakness and frailty. Therefor Paul can honestly say, I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
There is a precept that repeats itself right through scripture: weakness, frailty and submission, humbling before God results in him acting for man. Independence pride and self-sufficiency results in God having to put man in his place. It is the strength of Christ that resulted in him submitting to death on the cross and that in turn resulted in our salvation. His submission to weakness resulted in strength. 1Co 15:43;

2Co 12:9;
Sickness, weakness and infirmity has purpose: Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. The apostles realize that there is a strange paradox that occurs when we are weak… Christ is strong. Our weakness allows space for Christ to demonstrate his power. God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, It is almost as though our strength gets in the way of the Lord. So Paul can make the statement, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
Paul starts the verse of with ‘Therefore’, making an argument, saying I know that this does not make sense in our world, I know that this is wonky thinking. In terms of the mind of this world, you must project strength, success and happiness. The argument goes like this: You are ‘Christ’s child’, Christ’s children are not losers, otherwise why would we follow him? It follows that your life is full of health, wealth and happiness. It is logical that you are rich and increased and have need of nothing. It is logical that you are blessed.
Paul had gained a heart of wisdom. So he says therefore. It is as if he sees himself in Christ’s mould, crucified in weakness, he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live.
For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong… strength out of weakness… blessing in suffering. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.

2Co 12:10;

2Co 12:10;

1Co 1:27;

2Co 13:4;

2Co 13:9;

2Co 11:30;

2Co 13:4;

Isa 40;30, 31;
I am repeating scripture, trying to rub it into the cracks of my life because like you I feel the rise of counter argument. Surely Christ was powerful on earth? …he walked in the miraculous, healing, speaking truth to authority bla-bla-bla. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Christ was subject to the same weakness while on earth, he himself also is compassed with infirmity. This God/man was just like you and me. yes I hear the whisperer say but this was just physical weakness in that he went to the cross and was physically weak; his will character and faith was left untouched… “Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani?” Heb 4:15;

Heb 5:2;

Mat 27:46;
Realizing that we are weak and frail and fragile we can have compassion and empathy with the weak… comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. (all men includes you and me.) I can comfort that frustrated fragile individual living caged in my body. I can speak to him and tell him, not long now, be patient, wait. 1Th 5:14;

Legacy, what legacy?
The frailty of men; it is as if life itself forgets to cling to the body and goes wandering. Jesus was a hero one day, ‘the Savior’; next thing the people had forgotten him. This is frightening and upsetting as we all recognize this amnesia in ourselves. Life is a mist, a vapour and the memory of man, even the most famous, transitory; leaving a husk; twisted, misshapen, a dried out form of what was, the life having rejected the substance.
When my mother died I was given the task of clearing the family home. I threw out boxes full of family photos that nobody wanted. Now this may not sound a big deal until you realise that they documented 150 years of family life. With the photos went memories and lives. With the photos disappeared the only record of men’s lives. My point is, the younger generation did not even want to look at the curled up, dried out remains of the generation before them. They are too busy making their own husks to be blown away in turn.
What is frightening is that in our hands the eternal word of God is left dried out and distorted a malformed relic of our twisted minds. We in protection of our fragile idols; our lives, make God’s word subject to our will.
The eternal Son rejected of men… the realization that this is the fate of man stirs tribulation to life. The word, a tender sucker growing out of an eternal plant that will wither; a root out of dry ground.
Both the old and NT describe life and riches as being ephemeral as grass growing on a rooftop or as flowers of the field. Men understood, like grass, life pops up for a season and then dries up and is blown away… a vision of the night… a dream… not found

Isa 53:2;

Job 20:7, 9;
Keeping with the theme of the husk; it seems that the best and brightest fare no better than the grandpa who pops his clogs in the rural village. The greats of history are reduced to single lines in history. ‘E=mc2’, ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘Fur Elise’, ‘I think therefore I am’.
The notorious criminals are reduced to a shell too. Think of Hitler and the holocaust. Stalin and the gulags. Atalla the Hun or Genghis Kahn. I heard J.S. Bach referred to as ‘boring’.
If the likes of Chaucer and Shakespeare are reduced to relics of history that no one understands; where does this leave you and me?
Place your life’s legacy alongside those greats and imagine what will be quoted from your life’s work. If the great luminaries of the world disappear in the vastness of time’s darkness where does it leave us? Little ‘grey men’ our lives hidden in the darkness of forgetfulness… that never stood out in our age.
At this point I can hear you saying; so what is your point? If I am so much dust on the scales what is the purpose?
The futility of life must strike you.
You are not the first man to have this knowledge: Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
The wise … fool in darkness; … the same fate overtakes them both.
“The fate of the fool will overtake me also. … meaningless.”
wise, like the fool, … both … forgotten… fool, wise must die!
So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. … meaningless, chasing after the wind. What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. Meaningless.

Ecc 2:11-23;
What was Solomon so upset about, surely the wisest man in the entire world knew this? We are brought to the realisation along with David: a dead dog! a flea! – Why does the knowledge of our frailty and vulnerability disturb us?
We are offended because like Nebuchadnezzar our idol is disturbed. The idol is not bowed down to. This life that we worship is precious to us, more precious than the God what we claim is supreme in our lives.
We have supplanted God. We entertain the thought of immortality apart from Christ. We place ourselves on the throne along with Christ. We have life in Christ, if we are one in Christ. In Christ we have eternal life and not in ourselves severally or as a group.
The knowledge of your frailty and mortality is not to scare you but to give you opportunity. With knowledge comes opportunity and choice.
Fortunately if you are in Christ; your work in Christ has reward. If you are not ‘In Christ’ it is ash already.

1Sa 24:14; 1Sa 26:20;

Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” … thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1Co 15:51-57;
Men in biblical times seemed to be aware of the transitory nature of life. Perhaps it is something that comes with age, suffering, sickness or infirmity but it is not something we have inherently in us today… my life [is] wind: in an age where death was in your face, people died in the home and bodies had to be buried by family and friends. No hospitals, no undertakers and no way to avoid the inevitable.
We on the other hand have buffers that insulate us.
Washing my Father’s body with the dew of death fresh on his skin was a profound moment.
Nothing prepared me for that.
Life gone, what remained, wasted, flesh already returning to the earth. In that darkness I saw myself. thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again? No wonder that libations came to mean so much: waters [that] pass away.

Job 7:7;

Job 10:9;

Psa 78:39;
Men spent a lot of time speaking to God about the brevity of life.

Inactive, Inoperative..
There is a curious phenomenon in scripture called ‘shades’: Gesenius refers to them as ‘manes’ or ‘shades’. They are languid, weak spirits devoid of blood and animal vitality but still retaining soul, volition and memory. I see shades as a symbolic type of men who have wandered from the way of understanding and ended up weak and insipid, chasing things, they have a form of life but lack spark.
Shades are not confined to the afterlife of Sheol because when we look at our present age we see their presence in men that surround us. The desperation of emptiness. following meaningless things: dancing in fancy-dress to the tune of the world… sport, success, hedonism. This empty top spins for a while; then meets with the wall of death and eternity, wobbles and spins out of control, dribbles to a stop revealing its true nature to all. The world acknowledges this form of life; the living dead, the zombie, the android, not recognising themselves.
We live in a temporary world filled with meaningless nonsense like 20/20 cricket. The result does not matter and will not be remembered beyond now. Foam on the ocean, blown across the surface with the undercurrent and great depth below never plumbed for fear of what lurks beneath in darkness. Terror of darkness unexplored grows. I experience this in my life.

Pro 21:16;

My disease that I wrestle with feels beyond me, too big to comprehend or face head on, almost as though before starting I have been defeated.
“In his neck lodges strength, And dismay dances before him. One gets the impression leviathan is so terrible that it is almost as though dismay, disheartenment and melting of the mental capacity to resist goes dancing before him; an aura, into the heart of man. Wrestling with the physical is the easy part in dealing with weakness but when this fight moves into the soulical that the urge to flee dismay becomes overpowering. The urge to flee to the froth of life, all the time realising that the flood of reality churning beneath leaves one to wander among the shades.

Job 41:22 NASB;