Today's lectionary reading: Psalm 119:9-16; Haggai 2:1-9, 20-23; John 12:34-50
Selected passage for reflection: Haggai 2:1-9, 20-23
Haggai 2:1-9, 20-23
1 On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 2 “Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jozadak, [a] the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, 3 ‘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 like nothing? 4 But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’declares the LORD. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the LORD Almighty. 5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’
6 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty. 8 ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. 9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.
20 The word of the LORD came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month: 21 “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. 22 I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall each by the sword of his brother.
23 “‘On that day,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”
Taking stock is important. Evaluating what was prior to what is "now" is important. I don’t feel like we linger enough in this space. I know in the past my ultimate goal was to rush out of challenging moments in order to reach the next moment, the next experience, the next chapter. In my mind, that's what held the promise of a better future - a far more improved experience than what I was currently experiencing. There is nothing wrong with wanting an improvement in your life. There is nothing wrong with wanting a new and better experience than what you have experienced in the past. But taking stock, or inventory, is an important first step.
"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 like nothing?" (Haggai 2:3). When devastation occurs, when unrest settles in your life, it is helpful to engage with it, to acknowledge what is in front of you, and accept that the glory of the past has been reduced to nothing. It helps to acknowledge that brokenness, hardship, devastation, pain, loss, and disappointment are present. Sometimes you need to acknowledge that your former glory was perhaps greater than your current status.
Although the truth may be hard to swallow, the good news is that you do not stop there. Taking stock leads you into a second step, where you are called to step into your strength. Your current situation may be challenging, but this is also where you need to be strong. "Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear." (Haggai 2:4-5). It is challenging to see the light when darkness covers you. It is hard to see hope when you've identified failure and fear and it feels like it is you against the world. But wherever you are, God is there, too, saying "Fear not, I am with you."
I often struggled with this idea that God was with me, until I understood that I am a spiritual being first and a human being second. My eyes can see my physical being, but there are parts of me that my eyes cannot see, like the breath that goes into my lungs, the spirit of God in me, or my soul. Just because I don’t see these things with my physical eyes, it does not mean that they are not there. The very fact that I am thinking, breathing, blinking, is a wonder coordinated by forces I cannot see with my physical eyes. This has helped me ground my experience of knowing that the presence of God is with me in every moment and in every place.
Recognizing the presence of God in the midst of every aspect of your experience takes you to the third step, which is the door of patience. "In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty (Haggai 2:6-7). In other words, in a little while, you will see transformation. The glory of the new house will be far greater than the old one - the new experiences will be far greater than anything you have seen or lived before. This is what God is bringing into your life in a little while.
I am very passionate about agriculture. Unlike our tweeting/Instagram world, where we want immediate results, on a farm, seeds are not planted and dug out immediately because we want to see the result now. Instead, there is time between planting the seeds and harvesting. There is time for watering, tending to the plants, trusting the soil and the seeds to bring out their fullest potential. The job of the farmer is to water the plants and remove harmful substances, and the seeds will grow to give her or him the harvest she or he needs. Patience is key. Patience is needed.
"The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty." (Haggai 2:9). God is bringing transformation and rebuilding a new life out of your devastation. The glory of your new life will be far greater than the past. The question is, can you be patient enough to focus on watering the plant, to regularly cleaning the garden of your mind, and to trusting the process that turns seeds into plants and into harvest? The final step is where you enjoy the harvest, the fruits of your patience, and the peace God promises. It is where what is desired by all nations comes to fruition. This makes me realize how God’s vision is always greater than our own, including more than just you or me. You and I often come to God with our issues, but the answers we find are always about our individual desires and about something greater than ourselves.
Today, take 10 minutes to take stock of your current life. Notice anything that may be heavy on your heart, for any place where you feel that the current version of your situation is regression from what used to be, and simply acknowledge this. Then, make your way to a place where you can totally feel and know that right where you are, God also resides. Just because you do not see Her with your physical eyes, doesn’t mean that She is not there. Right where you are, God also is. After this, go water a plant, a flower or any planted living thing as a symbol of your commitment to patience and trust in the divine process that turns seeds into harvest. After watering the plant, give thanks for the glory of the new house which will be greater than the old one, for the peace that will follow, and for the fact that God is willing to share all of Her abundance with you
Divine intelligence, infinite presence, I understand today that God is all that is, and God is everywhere. Help me rest in the knowing that nothing can ever be wasted in my life. Grant me the patience to sit in this place without fear because I know you are with me. Thank you for my new house and for my new experience, for I know that the glory of the new will always be greater than anything I have seen so far. I give thanks for the renewing of my mind internally and for the expression of this renewal in my outer world. I give thanks for knowing that your harvest is about me and about more than just me. I know that as I rise, all nations rise with me. Thank you.
About the Author
Sarah Thontwa is a lover of life who holds a passionate interest in how inner transformation is the precursor for outer manifestations. She has been a development practitioner supporting international development projects in six
countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and South East Asia. She currently lives in Antwerp, Belgium where she is completing her PhD in Applied Economics. Outside of academia, she writes from her mind, on her blog www.misskambili.com. You can also follow her facebook page.