Not Even Life Is Vain (Buechner)

I recently began to explore some of the writings of Frederick Buechner. I realize he’s not going to make it on the list of solid and helpful Reformed Christian resources. At the same time, his writing, like that of Eugene Peterson, C.S. Lewis, Soren Kierkegaard, Dallas Willard and others outside the Reformed tradition can be quite thought-provoking and helpful. It has been very good for me in my Christian life to read authors like these to stretch me, get me thinking from a different angle, and reflect on some things I haven’t though about before.

The Buechner book I’m going through right now is Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith. It’s a collection of short meditations on various topics like love, the fool, blessing, sin, and so on. There are also a fair number of meditations on people of the Bible like Vashti, Peter, Ham, and so on. Some of the meditations are less helpful – some are more helpful. Here’s one on “vanity” that I read this morning. This one is good.

Vanity is futility. According to the book of Ecclesiastes, everything is vanity because the good and the evil, the wise and the foolish, the lucky and the unlucky, the haves and the have-nots all turn to dust in the end. If you’re honest about it, that’s a hard point to refute.

Saint Paul put it this way, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.… Yes for this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:14, 19). In other words, he is as honest as Ecclesiastes if not more so. But then he goes one step further.

He says Christ has been raised. In honesty he has to say that too, because on his way to the city of Damascus one day he experienced it. That being so, he suggests, not even death is futile. That being so, not even life is in vain.

Frederich Buechner, Beyond Words, p. 400-401.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

1 thought on “Not Even Life Is Vain (Buechner)”

  1. Thank you for this post. There are many good writings exalting the Lord Jesus Christ outside the Reformed tradition. I came from the PCUSA and am happy to be in the Reformed church but also recognize wise words from CS Lewis, and Eugene Peterson.


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