Read: Ecclesiastes 5:8-20
Memory Verse: “They seldom reflect on the days of their lives because God keeps them occupied with the gladness of heart.”
Have you ever had to use the restroom in a public place and when you finally locate it, there was only one restroom and the glaring red knob on the door was turned and read, "occupied". Now you must wait patiently, but every second you wait the pressure builds as your stomach turns and churns. And wouldn't you know, the person in there is taking forever. They are probably reading the latest fashion trends article on their phone while you face this digestive emergency. What happens at this point? Well, people try to talk to you, but you can barely pay attention. You try to think about other things but all you can focus on at this point is that little red sign, “occupied”. You are laser focused, just waiting for it to make some movement… some change.
You are preoccupied with the thing that you most want to occupy.
In Ecclesiastes 5, the author shares about wealth and laboring. "It never satisfies” (v10). “As goods increase, so does our consumption” (v11). “The abundance of the rich permits them no sleep” (v12). “All their days they end up frustrated, afflicted and angry” (v17). We so badly desire to occupy a status of wealth and success, or to occupy a bigger house, that we are completely preoccupied. A good definition for being preoccupied is: to be engrossed in mind to the exclusion of other thoughts. To become preoccupied with the chasing of wealth is like chasing the wind (v16). It is like waiting for the restroom. All you can think about is that occupied sign. You can't pay attention to your family and friends, you aren't really listening and you are not enjoying the moment. You are in gastric distress. You are frustrated and afflicted, and angry at the person who is probably scrolling through Facebook while you wait.
The chasing of materialism and goods is like that. It consumes our thoughts to the exclusion of other things – most notably God. In the end, the author says, "Those who are occupied with the gladness that comes from being with God do not sit around engrossed with the meaninglessness of life. They are not afflicted and frustrated. On the contrary, they discover that elusive gladness so unfamiliar to our cultural way of life.
In Ecclesiastes 2:26, the author says, "To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.” Sit with that for a moment… If you are preoccupied with pleasing God then His wisdom, gladness, & happiness will occupy your soul. However, to those preoccupied with wealth or success or materialism of any type – toil frustration and affliction which ends in losing it all in some way with nothing to show for it.
If you are like me at all, you often have your mind on producing more, prettying-up your house, shopping more or saving more, etc. Ask yourself, how many things are you preoccupied with? If you sense yourself anxious, frustrated or lacking in gladness of heart, perhaps it's because we are preoccupied with stuff to the exclusion of God who doesn't occupy our hearts and minds.
We have stared so long at the occupied sign, needing some relief, hoping upon hope to get into the room of the job we want, the house we want, or the successful life we want, that all we can think about is waiting for that door to open.
Yet, it has been to the exclusion of listening to God, being present with loved ones and finding the gladness of heart and relief that is found only in being preoccupied with God and what pleases Him. Let us turn our eyes away from the rooms we want to occupy and toward allowing God to occupy our hearts & minds. Then when other things bang on the door beckoning to come in and take over, you can turn the knob confidently— “Sorry, this soul is occupied”.
#Occupy Church: When we spend more time in community discussing God’s desires, what pleases Him and His wisdom, we allow God to occupy our mind and spirit.
#Occupy Prayer: This allows you to hear from God and moves your attention toward the things that matter to Him and the things that bring gladness of heart instead of frustration.
#Occupy the Mission Field: When we become preoccupied with God’s concern for the world and His love for others through us, we focus on that which pleases God. As Ecclesiastes says, this is the secret to gaining God’s wisdom, knowledge and happiness.