“Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?”
Good question Haggai.
When was the last time you sat down to crack open this book that may easily get buried along with all the other minor and major profits in the Old Testament? Or did you find yourself asking the question Hagga-who?
Our pastor has recently been inspired to preach on the book of this rather obscure prophet, but it has been striking to take the time to soak in the two short chapters of Haggai and learn more about how much value God placed on His dwelling place among the people.
It has been convicting for us as a church as we find ourselves in a stage of transition. In fact, we are a church of transition in a way, often serving as home for people who find themselves in Zambia for a couple of years completing non-profit work, or a few years in missions. However, throughout the years, our church has also had a strong core of members, and it seems that is shifting recently as well. Through this minor profit, we have felt God’s call to rebuild his temple, and become devoted to His cause on earth through His church, the place dedicated to making His glory known.
Not only has this book caused us to think seriously about the way we are devoted to its cause, but it has also called for us to reflect individually. God has given us an ocean of possibilities to do with our lives, but where will we choose to go? Where will we allow Him to lead? Where will we spend our time? What will be our cause? In the end, will we say it was all worth it?
I opened this blog with the question posed in Haggai 1:4, and while out of context it seems a little vague and strange, it is a question God asks of His people to reveal where their true priorities are. He speaks about the way they have taken such great care of their own houses, and have even made them look beautiful with paneled walls, but the house of God was the picture of neglect, sitting in ruins among all the beautiful houses. It is so easy to get caught up in the races of this life, but in the end we will find we have covered no ground at all. God continues to speak through Haggai and laments further in verse 6:
“You have sown much and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them in a bag with holes.”
Have you ever felt this way as well? It’s as if you work hard all day and yet only check a few things off the to do list. It seems all your efforts are in vain and no one even appreciates you. If you could just have this one thing, then all your problems would go away, then you would be satisfied.
Drew and I are headed back to the states in just over a week for some rest and to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, and to process our first year in Zambia. As I have been looking back, Haggai’s word from God to the Israelites is quite convicting. They were also building a new home in what was now a foreign land since their ancestors had been exiled for many years. However, although they did very well in making a way, earning a living and even having a great house to show for it, they neglected the on thing that mattered. I think it’s the same thing Jesus speaks of in Luke 10:42 when he responds to Martha’s cries for help with all the preparations and busy work in the kitchen from her sister Mary who has chosen instead to sit at Jesus’ feet,
“Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
As I look back on our time here, I wonder, how much of it was spent on the good portion? How much of it was spent on building my paneled house, while I left God’s house in ruins?
I have a wonderful job, we may be moving into a bigger house, we have done youth events twice a month since the ministry was handed over to us in March, but which of those things can never be taken away from me? I know it’s a little early to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions, but why not take some time before the New Year to reflect on where your priorities are lately. Look at the state of God’s house in your context and how you have been committed his Kingdom or where you may need to commit more.
As a church in Lusaka, Zambia, we are gaining a new vision to build a place for God to dwell in our community both on Sunday mornings and throughout the week. It is so easy for each of us to gather as the church when it is convenient, and work on our normal lives the rest of the time. But what would it look like if our work were devoted instead to creating a dwelling place for God at our home church, in our community, at our work place, you name it, and everything else fell in line behind.
As a community of women reading and writing for GLOW, we must also be committed to building the house of God in our midst. We have the capacity to build great houses and kingdoms for ourselves, but they will never satisfy our deepest longings in the end. Take a look at the state of God’s house in your area this week, and how you can be devoted to His Kingdom ahead of your own. Our efforts to build God’s house will never be in vain.