“Vanity of vanities,” says Qoheleth,” vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!”
–Ecclesiastes 1:2; New American Bible Revised Edition
The Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible famously begins with this classic passage and this theme echoes throughout that book. This man had it all, even experienced and thoroughly examined everything to be done in life but found it all to be meaningless except the fear of God.
“I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
All things done under the sun don’t matter in the end because we all die eventually. This is indeed a hard pill to swallow. No one wants to accept their own mortality and in fact, most just don’t even think about it. It doesn’t change the inevitability of it though. We are all born to die–PERIOD. Once you come to accept this fact is when you can start to embrace true change within yourself. It took me many years to come to that realization.
My whole life I was caught up in the materialistic, obsessing over this secular world of ours. “I can’t wait for this new video game coming out,” I would think. Or, “That new movie is going to be amazing,” I would exclaim. Little did I know that my life was wasting away before my very eyes as I anxiously waited for the next “great big thing” to come out. After I devoured each new media release, I would suddenly have this empty feeling in my life and I would wonder, “So what now?” I’d even wonder deeper thoughts like: “Wow, what am I doing with my life?” These questions would haunt me especially when I would always struggle to find something else to fill that void. Little did I know is that is when my faith journey began and I’d return to my humble Catholic Christian roots…
So, I will admit I’ve always had an unhealthy obsession with horror movies. There’s something so exhilarating about being scared but at the same time you know it’s safe because, “it’s just a movie.” I suppose when I think about it now, they would make me feel alive again. I was addicted to that boost of adrenaline that surged through me when I was scared. As years passed, a void began to take root in my heart and only new material possessions could temporarily fill that void. I was dying inside… I lost my focus and I lost my purpose. Every single time I would complete a new game, binge watch an entire TV series, watch the latest movie, afterwards I would just sit and wonder, “What next?”
I even got into a phase of watching all these horror movies in the attempt to inspire me to write one of my own. I majored in Electronic Media because I was such a “media enthusiast,” thinking that that was my true passion and that it would make me happy. I can tell you now after watching so many horror movies, it starts to get to you after a while. I began to have existential questions like what was the point to my existence, and with so much death in my face I began to wonder about what would happen when I die. I read about many Near Death Experiences, Heaven, Hell, and the most chilling of all, an atheist’s perception of death: total annihilation of consciousness.
I may not have lived the most amazing life or had many major accomplishments, but you know what: I liked living, darn it! As you get older, years seem to fly by like it’s nothing. I truly feel like I was having a mid-midlife crisis in my late twenties! I fell into a deep depression because I began to think and fear like an atheist, “Was there really nothing at the end of this crazy life of ours?” And, “Was it all really meaningless?” It is through that rock bottom moment of mine that I owe everything to Our Lord and Almighty Father–God. He’ll tear you completely down in order to make a better “you.” It’s through this humbling experience that we see how we can’t rely on just ourselves, we NEED Him.
So I have an iPad and I would just mess around on it constantly, wasting time, surfing the internet, watching YouTube or Netflix, and playing video games. And I always liked to download new stuff, and after some browsing I noticed a collection of classic books free for download in iBooks. Well, I really can’t say what stirred me to do it but I just randomly got a thought one night when I saw it to download and start reading the Bible! I don’t know why but I felt this compulsion to do it. Why not, right?
I first started reading with an atheist point of view. A few chapters passed, an agnostic’s. “Maybe there could be a higher power,” I thought. After several more chapters, I felt my life slowly transforming before my eyes, I went from a disbeliever to a believer! This void in my heart began to be filled with the Word of God and God’s love for me! No matter what I did previously in life, I realized that God always loved me and cared about me. ME! I don’t even love myself the way He does, and He loves us all like that! As He reached out to me in that moment of my despair, I reluctantly took hold and He lifted my spirits back up! I began to look forward to reading more and more each day and before I knew it I was in the Exodus right alongside Moses feeling for his people and moved by God’s many blessings and mercies. This book is truly transformative!
The Word of God will transform you and fill that void you have in your life! This life is all meaningless when you think like an atheist, even if you were to accomplish great things it would not matter because afterwards you would be gone and it’d all be for nought. God promises us new life, ETERNAL LIFE, with him if we repent, live holy lives, and obey his Commandments! Have faith and love thy neighbor by doing good, selfless deeds for others—making the world a better place to live in. How often are we confronted with the latest bad news like random acts of violence, war, and generally people disregarding their fellow man due to their ungodly way of life? How amazing this world of ours could be if only we all followed God!
God created man to have fellowship with Him. THAT is the void you feel in your lives! What do you think teenage angst really is? On top of hormones going crazy, during that time, kids are finally confronted with what to do for the rest of their lives and usually are indulging completely in sin. They attempt to fill the lack of God in their lives with temporal pleasures, fleeting pursuits that are inevitably futile. Wisdom is the fear of God, and the foolish think otherwise. When you commit sin, you are separating yourself away from God.
Sin at its core is an act of rebellion. He can only try to keep throwing signs your way in the hopes that you will repent and come back to Him because of his infinite mercy. I looked back on my life and ever since I was kid, I always felt drawn to the Bible but made up excuses all the time not to read it. Little did I know that He was calling me to Him this whole time. As the years went by I always thought about it in the back of my head. When I was in the Navy overseas, I even bought a little paperback Bible which sadly only collected dust for so many years. He’s always calling us to Him. You just need to learn to recognize his calling and stop ignoring Him.
Don’t believe me? I beg you to try it for yourself! Pray to Him unceasingly. Pick up the Bible and read it. Go to Church. If you’re a returning Christian, actually pay attention to everything that’s said at Mass this time around and sing all the hymns loud and proud. I guarantee you’ll start to feel the Lord once more if you do any one of these things and wish you never left or regret all those years you didn’t believe. All those years I went on seeking material goods but what I really needed was in fact spiritual–I needed God.
I wrote this testimony in the hopes that it’ll save souls and even if it just saves one, then I’ll consider it a success. Maybe you feel a similar void in your heart like the way I felt. This world is becoming increasingly more obsessed with material goods alone and is losing faith in God. Many try to fill that emptiness with nothing but stuff of this world. But what, rather who, you need is Our Lord. Seek Him with all your heart. Don’t give up and you’ll find Him. You have no idea what you’re missing.
If anyone knows me very well I’m not the one to show much emotion, but now during a great song of praise I can be compelled to tears! It’s because He lifted me back up and filled my life with new purpose. Your whole perception of life will change, and the Lord will empower you to spread the word. He can do it to you as well, you just have to let Him. Don’t harden your hearts, embrace God with all your might. “[S]eek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7).
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
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Peace, love, and may God bless you all, my friends!