I read a story a while back about a guy that died while being arrested. It wasn’t a case of police brutality but of criminal foolishness. The man being arrested had drugs on him and tried to swallow them while the police were attempting to arrest him. I haven’t taken the time to do any extensive research on this but I’m pretty sure that this technique has worked zero times in the history of crime.
Sergeant: Did you find any drugs on the guy?
Officer: No sir. And we looked everywhere. But, come to think of it, he was talking kind of funny. Hey, wait just a second!
It didn’t work in this case either. Instead of swallowing the drugs, the man choked on them and, despite the best efforts of law enforcement, the man died. One last thing. This happened on Florida’s gulf coast. Feel free to take a break from reading while you gather yourself from the shock of something like this taking place in The Redneck Riviera.
Compare this man to Nikola Tesla. Nikola Tesla was one of the most influential inventors who ever lived. We know this because there is a crater on the moon named after him. You get craters on the moon named for you when you are very smart and very influential. Nikola Tesla has over 100 U.S. patents and he’s the one you can think for having something to do with the invention of wireless electricity, radio and even the death ray. That’s right, the death ray. As if that weren’t enough, there’s also a rock band from the 80s named after him. For my money, having a rock band named after you is much cooler than having a crater on the moon named after you. Unless of course that rock band is Nickleback. Apologies to Mr. Jeremiah Nickleback.
It certainly doesn’t seem like it at first but the guy who choked on his own bag of dope has a lot in common with the guy who gave the world the ray gun. Nikola Tesla was a genius. But now he’s a dead genius. Not only is he dead, but for the most part, he’s forgotten. Try it for yourself. Ask the average person on the street who Tesla was.
You: Who was Tesla?
Average Person on the Street: Tesla? They were great. I went to their concert in Fresno back in 1988 and I’ve still got the quarter length sleeve shirt to prove it.
For all of his accomplishments, nobody really cares about Nikola Tesla anymore. The great engineer and inventor is just like the guys you see on TV shows about dumb criminals that die doing foolish things.
Dead and forgotten.
Einstein gets all the glory.
Wisdom is a great thing but in the human form its limitations are numerous. The author of Ecclesiastes knew this.
He knew that you could devote your whole life to the pursuit of wisdom and still feel empty (Ecclesiastes 1:13).
He knew what it was like to mix wisdom and pleasure so that at the end of your life you’re left with plenty of both. But he looked back on it all and called it a vapor (2:1-11).
He also knew that wisdom was much better than folly. Some would say that all the wisdom in the world may not bring happiness but at least it keeps you from ending up like some idiot. The author of Ecclesiastes knew better than this. Both the wise and the fool die and are not remembered (2:12-17).
But not me! I’ve managed my business well. I’ve got things in order. When I’m gone, my family will be set and they’ll remember how wise I was in providing for them. Ecclesiastes tells us to slow down with that thinking too. Yes, you should provide for your family and do your best to insure that they will be taken care of after you are gone. But, we are reminded, when we are gone, all that we have worked for is out of our hands. There is a very real chance that our name and our money will be long gone after we too are long gone (2:18-23).
Jack Whittaker didn’t even have to die to learn this lesson. Whittaker grew up poor but started his own business that would eventually be worth several million dollars. One day he found himself holding a lottery ticket that was worth a record $315 million. Whittaker loved his granddaughter and knew that this new money was his chance to really make sure that she was financially secure. For Whittaker and his granddaughter, financial security meant a $5 million home with a room shaped like a genie bottle, a $2000 a week allowance and four cars.
Like almost every other person who wins big in the lottery, Jack Whittaker is now broke and divorced. But his biggest loss came 2 years after he became a multi-millionaire when he discovered his granddaughter’s lifeless body wrapped in plastic in a place called Scary Creek.
But it’s not all gloom and doom. In Ecclesiastes we are reminded that true pleasure is found in knowing God and living in submission to him instead of wasting our lives waiting for the day when we’re rich enough or smart enough or whatever enough to be really happy.
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God.
Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
It may be wisdom, it may be money or it may be something else but having a lot of it doesn’t bring you salvation or even happiness. True joy comes when we begin to see that God created us to delight in him, not our things. At the cross we see a man who died for the sins of his people. When you understand what Christ has done for you at the cross, you can’t help but delight in him. When you see that, by God’s grace and through faith, your just punishment is placed on Christ it frees you from living a life devoted to more things and compels you to live a life of pleasure in Christ now as preparation for pleasure with Christ later.
The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:42