Saturday, October 13, 2012

Give careful thought to your ways...

I've spent some time over the past few weeks in the book of Haggai--an Old Testament book which I barely know how to find, with a name I certainly don't know how to pronounce. Nevertheless this obscure, oddly-named prophet wrote words that have convicted me, challenged me, and in some ways haunted me.

God sent Haggai to the people of Israel after they had been freed from captivity in Babylon and returned to the city of Jerusalem. They had been free for many years, and were living rather prosperous, comfortable lives. But in their great effort to realize the American Israeli dream, they seemed to have forgotten something:
Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in paneled houses, while [my] house remains in ruins?" 
Apparently, a 'paneled' house was pretty high class. It wasn't a basic dwelling, it was, you know, fancy. In other words, the people of Israel had taken great pains to make nice homes for themselves. At the same time, the Lord's house had been neglected. It was literally IN RUINS. The temple was not a priority for the Israelites, even though it was a priority for God.

And there-in lies the conviction/challenge of Haggai. In this tiny book of TWO short chapters, the prophet implores God's people to "give careful thought" to their ways. He repeats this exact phrase FOUR times. "Give careful thought to your ways..." Which has caused me to ask, "Are God's priorities MY priorities?"

Notice, God does not rebuke His people for having nice things. There is nothing wrong with having nice things. The problem was that they were living life on auto-pilot, going about their daily activities without thinking. They forgot to be intentional. They forgot to take account. They forgot that they were called to live beyond themselves. So they paneled their houses. Meanwhile the very work that God ordained for them--THE WORK THAT THEY WERE CREATED TO DO--was being neglected.

They. Were. Missing. It.

And tragically (but hauntingly familiar) they found that all of their self-satisfying efforts were disappointingly unsatisfying.
You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.
God made us to find satisfaction in living for Him. Real fulfillment comes from a sold-out commitment to His priorities. Oh, but the flesh cries for its needs to met and its wants to be pampered. And we give in to ourselves without even thinking...which is why the Lord calls to us and says, "Give careful thought to your ways...."

In other words, get out of the rat race. Take a breath. Look at what you are doing, and question why you are doing it. Ask the Lord what He wants you to do. Listen. Obey.

Expect to be satisfied.

1 comment:

  1. You always seem to write about things that are related to what I've been learning! This is from my journal just a few days ago:

    "I want to daily be still pursuing knowledge and wisdom. Not just floating along with my eyes open to 'see what God does,' but actively chasing and looking for more about Him..."

    Thank you, Aunt Jenn, for actively seeking His lessons and sharing thm! :) Christ's ways are truly satisfying.