Kerry Livgren, founder of the 1970s band Kansas, wrote “Dust in the Wind” in 1977. The song considered the meaning of life.His conclusion: “Everything is dust in the wind.”
What you might not know is that Kerry Livgren was not just writing songs for love of music or to make money. He was on a spiritual search. “Dust in the Wind” was an expression of where his search had brought him: hopelessness life is pointless.
His conclusions are not unlike the writer of the Biblical book, Ecclesiastes. Solomon, the likely author, had everything. He was king of a powerful nation and unbelievably rich. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. He possessed staggering wisdom. He should have been satisfied in every way imaginable.
Yet, his reflections in Ecclesiastes are pessimistic and depressing. He begins and ends the book saying everything is meaningless. Life is meaningless, he says. Pleasure and wisdom are meaningless. Being wise is meaningless, since the wise die like the foolish. Thirty-six times in 12 chapters he uses the word “meaningless” to describe life, which he came to hate.
It’s amazing to me that God would allow such a book to be included in the Bible. I think He did so to allow us to get inside the mind of someone who started strong in the faith, but didn’t stick with it.
Solomon had been the wisest man on earth, but apparently, he thought his wisdom exempted him from restrictions God had placed on kings, like not to have too many wives. While Solomon must have thought he was “the exception that proved the rule,” his many wives introduced him to their gods and he abandoned faith in the true God. When he did so, life lost its meaning.
There are significant lessons we can learn from Solomon not so much from what he wrote, but from what he didn’t write.
First, you won’t find any mention of eternal life in the book (during the time of the Old Testament, God had not revealed details about life after death). Second, prayer is not mentioned in Ecclesiastes. Third, you won’t find God mentioned by name in the book. Ecclesiastes is the only book in the entire Bible that talks about God without mentioning God’s name, Yahweh, or Jehovah (“the Lord” in most Bibles).
Solomon knew about God, but he had lost personal relationship with God. As a result, he describes life as being full of frustration, affliction, and anger.
Does this describe you? Is life frustrating for you? Are you frequently “afflicted” by all sorts of things? Do you often find yourself angry, maybe crabby, or irritable? May I recommend you take a serious look at your life and see if you’re missing what Solomon was missing.
Are you focused on eternal life beyond this life or do you spend your energies nursing the anxieties that accompany the stresses of this life?
Do you pray and ask God for help and guidance, or do you rely on your own strength and wisdom? That’s a recipe for frustration and anger!
And what about your relationship to God? Knowing about God is not enough. Solomon knew all about God, yet his life was pointless. Knowing God, through personal relationship, gives meaning to this meaningless life.
While I was in college in the mid-’80s, I had the chance to hear Kerry Livgren speak. He shared that some time after writing “Dust in the Wind,” his spiritual journey led him to faith in Jesus Christ. His life was transformed. No longer seeing life as a meaningless pursuit of the wind, he experienced purpose through faith in Jesus.
If you have not experienced God the way that Kerry has, I encourage you to do so, or your life will just be dust in the wind.