“And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” – Luke 19:13 KJV
For so several people, “Occupy till I come” has become an overly spiritual mantra. For them, it has come to mean “wage war till I come.” It is not a military occupation of a place that Jesus talked about, not even in the spiritual sense of it. It also has nothing to do with fighting spiritual powers of darkness until Jesus comes. That statement may logically seem relevant in different contexts but the contextual interpretation of it says “do business while you wait for my coming.” The word “business” applies to everyday life! In other words, it would mean “invest what you have as you wait for my return.” Some Bible translation even says “…earn with this while I am gone…”
Jesus was talking to people who were about entering the pause mode and waiting for the kingdom of God to come. Whether it was the kingdom of God coming to overthrow the Roman Kingdom of that time or the kingdom of God becoming a visible reality (as they had thought it should), Jesus was saying “while you wait, don’t pause! In your waiting, engage with something, in the capacity which I’ve called you and up to the level I have strengthened you to.”
We must understand that to wait isn’t to pause or enter the point of inactivity. When you’re in the plane, flying to a certain location, you are waiting to get to your destination but you didn’t stop moving! While you wait, you are in a moving plane, you might be handling certain businesses online, you might be listening to music, you might be looking around and enjoying to the sight of the earth and the clouds or you might even be taking a nap! But, the plane is moving and you’re getting closer every second to your destination.
In the restaurant, waiters aren’t suspended to a point of inactivity, they have a lot on their hands while they wait on you. Growing up in the business city of Onitsha, Nigeria, I would usually go to the main market to see young boys running around and beckoning on people to come to patronise them. They wouldn’t mind following you to some distance as they try convincing you on the go as to why you should patronise them. As much as some of their approaches are annoying, the good ones often get up to twenty costumers every day using this method. They are waiting for customers but they aren’t inactive. They are making the best of the limited time they have in their own limited ways.
Being a Christian isn’t why you should pause your life, stay in Church morning and night just because you are waiting for the second coming of Jesus. Just because you felt that you had a call to ministry isn’t enough reason to resign your job, enter a point of inactivity and believing that an opportunity will come knocking on your door in its own. Regardless of where and how “waiting” applies to you, you’re to engage in business until what you’re waiting for comes.
What does it mean to “do business?” In older English definition, it means to engage in purposeful activities and in other words, it means to carry out services in exchange for money. It would also mean to create something! Whatever way this applies to you, Jesus was saying “while you wait, create something, solve problems, live purposefully and don’t be carried or tossed around like a dead leaf!” In my previous article, I wrote that movement isn’t progress but the intentional or purposeful movement is progress. Dead things may be moved, but they aren’t making progress because they are dead, they are simply being moved by a force but they aren’t the ones moving. Their movement isn’t intentional.
Occupy till I come may mean “while you wait for something, keep tilling the grounds, keep sowing and reaping, keep making investments, keep solving problems until what you are waiting for takes up its place in you.” When we look at the parable where this statement came from, we notice something very important. Jesus told them this parable to correct a wrong impression. Jesus was bringing them out of what we often refer to as being “too spiritual to a point of becoming earthly useless” which in other words means being very religious to a point that we aren’t living anymore.
How do you explain some lifestyles that certain people adapted to in the olden days? There were people who lived a very secluded life, went up into a cave and lived out of sight! They were trying to live away from nature, they were trying to protect themselves from sin, they were trying to live above influences as they wait for the coming of Jesus or for their own “going” to Jesus. Some religious people dug the ground and covered half of their bodies, staying there and hoping that this way they would be able to wait on or for the Lord. This exactly was what Jesus was bringing His audience out from.
The interesting thing again in this story is that the Nobleman gave his servants diverse amounts to run business with. The instruction was “do business with this while you wait for my coming.” Regardless of where this story applies to you, you’ve got something to work with regardless of how little it is. As you’re waiting for admission into the University, engage is something! As you’re waiting for the multi-million business deals, engage in something. As you’re waiting to become a CEO, engage in something! Don’t just sit down as a woman waiting to be married off by a rich man, it is a nice ambition and nothing is wrong with wanting to be with a man who can take care of you but as you wait, engage in business, find something doing, live purposefully! While you wait for your rich parents to hand over something to you, discover what you can do with what you have and start doing it!
No matter the level of skill you have or limited knowledge you have, manage it and make out something with it. No matter what it is that you are waiting for, don’t enter a point of inactivity. Many times, what we have been waiting for can only be found or discovered in the little things we put our hands to do. You may have written various business plans, looking for grants here and there… It is fine! But while you wait for these grants, you can put what you have into good use. You never can tell, that little may blossom into something big.
What matters is not how much skill, knowledge or capital that you have, what matters is your ability to be faithful with the little that you have. You may have a vision of running a global business but are you faithful with the local business that you are running at the moment? As much as God wants you to be spiritually healthy, He also wants you to be physically useful. Spirituality is not an excuse for being earthly useless.
There are other things you might be waiting for. As a couple, you might be waiting to have kids but as you wait, how do you treat other people’s kids? How do you treat the little strangers that you come across every day? You might be waiting for a life partner but while you wait, how do you treat those people you come across every day regardless of how unattractive they are! Everybody have a waiting point, everybody have something they are anticipating for but also, everybody has something to be working on, something to keep them busy while they wait. And the secret to what they have been waiting for lies in the little that they are doing.
Looking at the servants of this Nobleman according to the account of Luke, they were all given some share of pounds of silver to invest. One made a 100% increase, another made a 50% increase and no one was judged based on the ability of the first servant, they were all examined according to their strength. But the third guy felt it’s better to keep the money safe and return it back to the owner intact! He was severely punished for that because he had at least an option to put the money in the bank and let it yield interest. There was no excuse whatsoever, he had something to do!
You see, keeping what you have and making no effort to increase it is evil! We are all on this earth to contribute our own quota no matter how little it is. Just because you have eyes on something big doesn’t mean you should ignore the little ones. Just because you have eyes on a rich man or woman doesn’t mean you should ignore the poor ones around you. The rich man you’re dreaming about maybe inside that man who seems to be poor at the moment. Whatever it is that you’re waiting for, remember that you shouldn’t stop or pause your life. Live purposefully, find something you can do at those moments and make every moment count. This is how you set the stage for the bigger stuff that you’re waiting for.
Look into yourself again! What have you got? A relationship? Few dollars? A skill? A little opportunity? A chance to speak the truth? An opportunity to help someone? Whatever it is you’ve got, do business with it as you wait for the bigger stuff. What you may never have realized is that the same strategy it took you to succeed in little is what it will take you to succeed in the big stuff. Starting from where you are currently is simply a rehearsal on doing great things!
I hope to continue on this series later. Watch out for it.