Opening with a quote from Shakespeare's dire Macbeth may provide readers with some insight as to the temper and tone of this remarkably fresh and deeply insightful text on living life from an inward, wisely introspective stance. Author David McKinley does a superb job of presenting an evenly paced yet riveting treatise on understanding what drives men and women to seek satisfaction. Taking in-depth looks at the book of Ecclesiastes and its author, King Solomon, interested readers will find themselves studying each concise chapter, digesting its contents and then subsequently delving within their own hearts and minds for life's solutions to most common struggles --- that of meaning, contentment and purpose.
The author very nicely establishes a mental picture of how much time modern-day individuals waste on their computers doing daily "searches" while frequently coming up with nothing to show for their efforts. Day after day, writes McKinley, people "...boot up, log on, select an engine, and start a search" and walk away frustrated, disappointed and wishing they had a better plan. So it is with life, and the church is no exception. McKinley talks about those nettlesome "itches" that just cannot be scratched. When life becomes an endless, aimless quest for satisfaction, most people, he says, will become skeptical, cynical, fearful and doubtful. Not a pretty picture. So what is the answer?
McKinley warms to his topic by first demystifying the myths of a satisfied life. Using Solomon's "search engine," life travelers will discover similar dead ends. To begin, the search for "progress" has not resulted in peace; rather increased knowledge has increased vulnerability. Next, "excess" is at best a short-term, short-lived state of satisfaction. Third, the search for "success" or accomplishments alone results in achingly cavernous inner-spaces. Fourth, "possessions" leave people only wanting more. Finally, "impression" fails as well; while a good name is a "good thing," it isn't enough to satisfy the need for significance. As far as Solomon was concerned, "No matches found" was the bottom line in his search for satisfaction.
Lest weary travelers be tempted to give up, McKinley urges Christians to stay at the task long enough to discover what Solomon eventually did figure out. There is reason to live and it is most simply found when "...we acknowledge our Creator and our desperate need of a relationship with Him." As believers, make God their focal point instead of subscribing to Solomon's ancient version of SPAM: sex, power, achievement and money; life becomes much more than an in-vain rush for personal actualization experienced at any and every level. McKinley tells men and women to develop their reasons for believing in God first and foremost, then grab hold of the Bible for all its worth as the foundation for living with hope and purpose, and lastly, invest the only life given to each person by honoring God and "living beyond yourself."
Reviewed by Michele Howe on May 23, 2006