Have you ever gone through a season in your life that caused you to look back and ask yourself where you left the Lord? Sure, you went to church, prayed over meals, attended your CG, and maybe read the occasional c|Life devotional, but can you relate to the feeling that you lived your life without much real attention to God?
If you can honestly answer that this has never happened to you, then please give me a call, because I need to sit at your feet! Chances are, though, that all of us, even those of us employed by Jesus, have allowed him to slip out of the center of our lives.
When I read the account of Haggai, I try to put myself in the shoes of the Jews that were there. They had been in captivity, and their homeland had been destroyed. Upon their return, of course they built houses for themselves first, right? Who can even look at them and blame them for providing safe shelter for themselves and their families? In fact, when I read the words of chapter 1 of Haggai, I have to imagine not only being in their shoes but also in their hearts. Because I know that God is a fair and loving God who cares about the security of his children, I really have to look for the point God is making.
I think that co-pastor David Griffin said it really well in his sermon at Kaufman last Sunday, when he said that we have to have God-centered lives, that we have to look for and remember his presence. The Israelites here in Haggai clearly allowed their vision to shift. They returned home, excited about rebuilding their city, looking forward to rebuilding the temple, which served as a symbol of their relationship with God. But they got distracted. They started building their own houses. They set about adjusting to life outside of captivity, relishing in their freedom. And, in the midst of this, they left God behind.
Twice in the first chapter of Haggai, the Lord tells his people, “Consider your ways…”. However, that statement could also be appropriately translated as, “Set your heart…”. How wise is God? How good is he to his people to remind them that it’s work to put him at the center of their hearts? Recently, someone said to me that if you are not leading yourself, then you are not going where you want to go. I believe this applies both to these Israelites and to us today.
While God is never shocked to see our hearts wander away from him, he is quick to remind us that setting our hearts on him is our job. He has done the hard work, he has made a name for himself, and loved us with an unfathomable love, but we have to daily consider our ways in order to keep those ways aligned with him.
Through Haggai, God tells his people in no uncertain terms:
…“I am with you, declares the Lord.”
— Haggai 1:13
That statement sounds very similar to the words of Jesus to his disciples:
“…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
— Matthew 28:20
God has made it clear that he is present with us, but we must make it clear that we have set our hearts on him. When we set this daily priority in our lives, then we see the overflow of this change in world around us.
Let’s be real. This is work, and we are drifters by nature. But, just as the temple represented the relationship with God and Israel, so too do the priorities of our hearts represent our relationship with him. So, today, what is God calling you to rebuild?