By Lisa Huddleston
“Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways’” (Haggai 1:5).
One of my favorite poems is a Wordsworth gem called “The World Is Too Much with Us.” For many years my husband and I have quoted from it when times have gotten crazy.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
At this point you may be saying, “What dorks!” and clicking the little red x in the corner of your screen. But I hope you’ll bear with me for a few more lines. This poem really does have a lot to say that matters. Often the world really is “too much with us,” and we really do waste our lives “getting and spending.” And then, we reach a moment or a day or a season when we wonder what we have to show for all that energy we’ve expended. “We have given our hearts away,” and for what? We expected so much more for our efforts. This poem has often reminded us of the importance of keeping the main things the main things.
Last night we attended a concert by a young band called “Sleepy Eyed Fox.” Okay—I’ll confess. Three of the members in this group are our 22-, 20-, and 18-year-old kids. However, although I really thought they did great and I am a hopelessly proud stage-mom, the point I want to make here is that last night was a moment in sharp contrast to those I mentioned above. In fact, at one point during the evening, Chuck looked over at me and said, “The birds have flown!” It was awesome. A time that I will keep framed and displayed on the wall of my heart forever. And one that demonstrated the joy of giving careful thought to the ways of the Lord. I smiled back at my husband and knew that we were seeing a blessing that far exceeded our dreams. Wow! God does great things when we are careful to follow him. And I know it was all him—he led us to put raising our children in a place of great importance—and I rejoice in his presence in their sweet lives!
While the example above is a good one, too often I have not been so careful. Like the Israelites in our text, I have frequently squandered my efforts in careless pursuits. I have chased after the world. I have wasted my time “getting and spending” or even worrying over the “getting and spending.” And, like them, I have found myself wondering why God hasn’t blessed my hard work. Where was the fruit?
But God calls us to a different way. It is not the world’s way, and it is often not the easy way. However, it is the way that leads to peace. “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. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘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 2:6-9).
God was speaking to the people about the temple he would inhabit. It was not the glorious temple of their past, but it was the place for their present time with him. So what can that have to do with us? Like those Israelites, we too have a present place. A here and now in which we must find a way to live lives that bring glory and honor to our Lord. In case you missed it, he is the Lord Almighty! Following him may lead us to places that seem smaller and less glorious than those we may have desired, but they will eventually become places of peace and blessing—if we give careful thought to our ways. Like the Israelites, we are his chosen ones and his desire is to be with us in this day, in this place, and in our homes and families.
Are you being careful with your days or is the world too much with you? Has “getting and spending” become your focus or are you spending your time and energy on the things that really matter? No matter your past, no matter your former carelessness—this is the day to choose. Give careful thought to today, and you will find his blessing of peace filling even those places that are much less than you hoped. “‘From this day on I will bless you’” (Haggai 2:19). Amen!