Have you ever been headed somewhere and put a lot of effort and energy into going there only to realize in the middle of your journey (if not at the end), where you’re headed isn’t even where you wanted to go?
I can think of plenty of times. Sometimes it’s because I’ve veered off the course somewhere and headed towards a new destination without noticing. Other times it’s because I had the wrong destination in mind the ENTIRE time. Investing so much time and energy into a place where you weren’t supposed to be in. Then, later on having to re-adjust, re-calculate, refocus, and re-energize before heading where you should be going.
In my life, I can thoroughly relate in many ways shapes and forms to that picture. One of them is a fairly fresh example. You see I always seem to get a tad ambitious about my future and God has taught me a huge lesson on giving that to him and letting him lead me each step of the way. With that, when God reveals a little snippet of his plan with me, I RUN WITH IT. When I run with these plans I get ahead of myself, WAY AHEAD. The Lord knows me oh so well and that’s why He only gives me one step at a time. Anyway, back to my example. This past semester I was at Nova studying hospitality management, long story short they dropped my major MID SEMESTER. I had my next four years planned out, now it was all in pieces. I was frustrated, I cried for a bit, talked to my parents, and then gave it up. I said, “Okay God I know you led me here and I know you’ll lead me again, so while you keep whispering wait I’ll enjoy where you have me now.” Funny thing is whenever I get to that point of surrendering my plans, that’s often when God shows me the next step, it’s like He’s saying, “I was waiting for that, now are you ready to see the next step.” Shortly after that I started interning with these amazing women who are teaching me things that I could never learn in a classroom, which is how to minister to people in the event coordinating environment. With that in my life I started running again. I know, I know, you think I’d learn. Honestly, I got caught up with the rhythm that mostly everybody in Northern Virginia runs to. We’re all so career focused and success minded, and we run towards it. I’m talking about endurance running, it’s a marathon. We’re all competing for the best time, to look the best while were doing it, to go farther than anyone thought you could go. Except this is where I think we miss the picture, this is where we often miss the goal. Don’t misunderstand me, these are good things I’m well aware, but at the same time this was never the race we were meant to put our ALL into. We can start with something so close to our target, but being just a smidge off in your aim will lead you to a very different trajectory.
I believe it’s a lot like the story of Haggai. You see, the nation of Israel began working on building homes for themselves. Homes are a necessity; how could this be a problem? Does God not want us to have a roof over our heads? Of course not! That’s actually the point I’m trying to make. We can start with good intentions but be missing It completely. In the NLT version of the Bible it says that they’re living in luxurious houses while His house (the Lords house) sits in ruin. Not only were they forgetting & putting off the work on the temple, but they were putting in all of their energy into making their homes luxurious. Leaving no effort, no time, no supplies, to put into the Lords house. It makes me ask the question, how often am I putting all my time, effort, energy, resources, gifts, and talents into NECESSARY things but not leaving an appropriate amount or any, for God and what He has in store for me?
So, what does God say about this?
He tells the people of Israel TWICE to give careful thoughts to their ways. He says in Vs. 6,
“You have planted much but have 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.”
And later on, again in Vs. 9,
“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home
I blew it away. Why? Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you
Is busy with his own house.”
God is telling us to assess what we are doing. Where is our heart focused, what are our priorities, is the majority of your time & energy geared towards seeking God, or pursuing other necessary things? My red flag is when I find myself running out of time for hearing Gods word in my day, or week, and definitely a big red flag if I can’t find time with him in a couple weeks. Its normally a slow transition, like I said in the beginning, we aim somewhere so close to the direction we want to be but even just a little off can leave us far away from target, like when my day switches focus from asking God what he wants for my day, to just trying to squeeze Him in to my day.
God goes on to talk about how they have put in lots of work but are going to harvest little, how they’re going to have clothes and food and drink, but it won’t be enough, they won’t be satisfied. The Lord has withheld from them, because his house remains in ruin. Then the Lord instructs them to go and rebuild the temple. Then comes my favorite part! The people respond to what the Lord is saying through Haggai and this is their response: “The governor, high priest, and the whole remnant of the people OBEYED the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.”
Tells me two things about their posture towards God that is important for us:
1. They’re humble, they did not let pride get in the way. They chose not to be overly consumed with what they had been putting all their effort into when corrected, and humbled themselves to obey even at the cost of all their work. Am I humbling myself enough that when corrected by God I’m willing to potentially lose all my work, to ensure I’m going the direction God is calling me?
2. They feared the Lord. They had a deep understanding of Who God is and how big He is. They knew that the last place they wanted to be was out of His will. Is that my perspective? Am I fearing the Lord or the world?
When we get to Chapter 2 we find that they have already started to build the new temple and the Lord speaks through Haggai once again.
“Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you nothing?“
Honestly that’d be a tad discouraging to me, some of these people have been around a long time and had seen the beauty of the temple that Solomon had built, one of the wealthiest men! Now they’re looking at this temple and its nothing compared to that. Sometimes when I get back on track when I finally realign to Gods will, I have so little energy left in me, sometimes I have to take some extra steps to make up for my wrong direction, which cause my efforts to almost look pitiful. I often get frustrated at this re-navigation that it’s just really not what my walk use to look like & it’s not good enough. Here is the thing God didn’t just leave them after pointing that out but continues to go and encourage them.
“BUT NOW BE STRONG. Be strong all you people of the land; and work for I am with you. That is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my spirit remains among you. DO NOT FEAR.” Guys, God wants to work along side us, encourage us, instruct us. He has power in his words to revive our weary souls, but are you allowing yourself to listen to that voice to receive correction and encouragement.
There is so much more to unpack in these 2 chapters so I’d encourage you to go read them INTENTLY because I know I’ll lose you if I continued to go on and on. But also, God can often speak so much clearer through his word than my fickle words. But Overall Remember when you focus your eyes on Jesus, and use your time, energy, talents, resources, etc. You will see Gods glory and He will bless you! When He corrects you, listen and obey his voice and run towards him and He will encourage you! He loves us with an all-consuming love & wants to guide us in our race of life, until we reach the finish line (aka, Heaven).