After working for many years to obtain my dream job, I was disillusioned to find that an emptiness accompanied my success. Where would I go now that the dream I had worked for since childhood had been realized? When I reached my next goal, would I be left with the same sinking “there’s got to more to life than this” feeling?
In the book of Ecclesiastes, wise King Solomon explores the idea of how to find true happiness. As he recalls his own pursuit of wealth, relationships, notoriety and education, he arrives at the following conclusion...
“When all has been heard, the end of the matter is: fear God [worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is almighty God] and keep His commandments, for this applies to every person.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV).
Here Solomon is conveying that “serious godliness is the only way to true happiness.”1 He writes “... All [that is done without God’s guidance] is vanity [futile, meaningless— a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes, merely chasing the wind].” (Ecc. 1:2 AMP). And later adds that God “has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]” (Ecc. 3:11 AMP).
As I reflected on those times where I felt most alive and had the greatest sense of purpose, Solomon’s words rang true. In order to put myself through college, I at one point had three work-study jobs. Living in poverty, my clothes were worn out and my shoes were hole-ridden. Often, my food money would run out well before the semester ended. There was a time I ate sweet rice for every meal for nearly a month. Oh, but this was one of the richest and most rewarding times in my life. I sensed Jesus’ nearness like it was my next breath. I loved spending time with him each day because he was my lifeline. Even in my lack, I could truly say my soul was alive and thriving!
I recalled yet another time where, with an overabundance of finances, I began helping people in need - purchasing groceries, cooking meals, and providing emergency funds to those in desperate situations. Interestingly, my bank account kept growing, and the more I helped people, the more resources poured in. During this time, Jesus was my top priority. When he spoke, I did my best to follow his leading. He was my true love and I woke up every morning with the awareness that I was his desire also. Life was exhilarating!
But it didn’t last. Like any flawed person, I began to stumble around in a fog of busyness, slowly slipping away from fully seeking after what was closest to God’s heart. Psalm 25:14-15 MSG says, “God-friendship is for God- worshipers; They are the ones he confides in. If I keep my eyes on GOD, I won’t trip over my own feet.” The enemy wanted to trip me up and distract me from a truly thriving life, and he was using the temptation of busyness to do so.
What I learned through these experiences is that joy and contentment aren’t contingent upon how much or little I possess; but rather, they hinge on my daily walk with Jesus and whether I make space for him. This revelation renewed my quest to know Jesus more, in ways that went beyond simply receiving his material blessings.
In Luke 10:38-42 NCV we read about two sisters, each with a different response to the challenge of making space for Jesus in the midst of all that has to be done throughout each day:
"Martha had a sister named Mary, who was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him teach. But Martha was busy with all the work to be done. She went in and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work? Tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the better thing, and it will never be taken away from her.”
What would be different about our lives if, like Mary, we sought to know more of Jesus’ character and the deepest recesses of his heart? What if we desired to sit with him, unwind in his presence and ask him what’s on his mind? I have to believe living in touch with the heart and mind of God in this way provides eternal satisfaction, something beyond what is normally attainable on this side of Heaven. It’s just one way we can experience God’s kingdom here on Earth!
Asaph and King David wrote this:
“Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever...But as for me, the nearness of God is my good...” (Psalm 73:25-28 NASB).
Material gifts are blessings from God, but in the end, if that’s all we have, they leave us wanting. Success alone leaves us wanting. Failure is sure to leave us wanting. As King Solomon said, without God’s guidance, it’s all “meaningless” and leaves us with a “mysterious longing.” But to have an ever-deepening relationship with God is forever fulfilling; it’s to experience the thriving life he intends for all of us!
Pause to listen to Holy Spirit. What might be keeping you from experiencing God as your top priority and the one who is your closest friend? How do you feel led to respond to whatever the Spirit of God is speaking?
Let’s pray some of the lyrics from the song More: “We want to know you, we’re desperate for you, Lord. We’re here to seek you; you’re what we came here for. When your Spirit moves upon us, your nature shows more and more. So come and rain down on us and overflow every heart. We want to know you - more of your Spirit...and more of your heart. We want to know...the ways you move. More of who you are.”2
Click below to listen to the song More (or stream it on all major platforms):
Notes: 1 “Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible by Matthew Henry ." Bible Hub, http://biblehub.com/commentaries/mhcw/ecclesiastes/ 12.htm. 2 Natalia Chase. (2018). More. On More: The U. S. Album [CD].