In the last few weeks, it has become almost rudely clear, that our combined ministries and our northern outpost church are—in a word—plowing.
Working on a new clothing resale storefront to support the financial needs of our ministries. Working on transforming our building into a wedding hall last weekend and facilitate cooking and photography and other logistics, from set-up to tear-down. We are working on our coffee shop, renovating a house, revamping our websites and adding podcasting, formulating a group in our community for a huge winter festival including a sled dog race. Work, work, work…. All while half of our church is perpetually pregnant!
With our hands so very full right now, I have been feeling a bit like the prophet Haggai must have felt. Here they were, the children of Israel, finally able to start trickling back into their homeland because of God’s unfailing love, and a mountain of problems lay before them. You see, many were invited to come home, but few actually went…a small percentage. They had done well for themselves in Persia, buying and selling and doing what Jews seem to always be good at…to go back to a demolished city, a bunch of rubble, and a Temple out-of-order was simply a tough pill to swallow.
How committed to the Lord do you have to be to leave comfort and livelihood to set sail for difficult seas, uncharted and filled with hard work at every turn?
Thank God for guys like Ezra the Scribe and Joshua the High Priest and Zurubbabel for stepping up and leading. But even these guys, I think, needed the pep-talk prophet Haggai to jolt them into pushing through all the newfound labor and toil. The people had showed up, kicked some rocks around, started in on some of the rebuilding, gotten tired or frustrated or lazy or selfish and then quit. It’s too hard. It’s too heavy. My feet hurt. Then they just started taking care of themselves and making sure they were comfortable…something they also seemed to be good at through history.
So Haggai steps on the scene and says, “Consider your ways.”.
You are all taking care of yourselves and the House of the Lord sits in ruins. So, everything else you try to do seems to be the spinning of wheels and for nought. You are wearing yourself out trying to take care of your own interests.
But when you seek first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness, ALL these things will be added unto you. Do what God has called you to do FIRST and then all the things that pertain personally to your life and godliness will fall into place effortlessly.
This revival stuff comes with a cost. It is hard work. It’s not just standing on the mountain top waiting to get hit by divine lightning, it comes usually in the valley with sweat on your brow and a shovel in your hand. We all have to get to work, spiritually speaking, for the night is coming when no man may work, but we have to have our priorities straight. If we take care of ourselves first and foremost or try to go about HIS work OUR way, I think we make things infinitely more difficult.
Jesus, help my brothers and sisters and I, in this “season of the plow,” to put You first and seek You to build Your House before we settle into our comfortable, paneled homes. Let us “Consider our ways” and find anything selfish in us, abolish it, and be lead in the Way everlasting.