It’s an uncharacteristically warm day in winter, so I’ll need to go out and turn the compost. Now, that might not sound too exciting, unless you see it with a little vision (or a lot, depending on your perspective, I suppose…) My heavy-duty fork and I have an interesting relationship—I supply the muscle but it touches the biologicals. It’s work, but I’m hoping a good harvest this coming summer.
Which is nothing compared to the work in this account…
Backstory: What little was left of the wayward Jewish people has finally been allowed to come back to what little was left of their national residence—photos of war-torn Europe or our modern day Middle East surface in my mind. Displaced for 70 years, some never having seen their place of national origin (having been born in captivity), I can only imagine the despair peeking under every rock and rubble as they approached what used to be called “home”.
To their credit, the Hebrew remnant takes up the assignment to rebuild and re-inhabit, and so the adventure begins.
But, alas! It seems things are not getting off to quite the good start that was hoped for. Even though they are once again building houses and planting fields, the goals are not progressing quite as expected for God’s people:
“Then the LORD sent this message through the prophet Haggai: ‘Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!’”
I absolutely LOVE that phrase, “Look at what’s happening to you!” And that exclamation point belongs to God, which means we really need to sit up and take notice, kind of like the King James “verily, verily”. Now, I can be quite good at denial. I think it’s something embedded in us from the Garden, you know, things aren’t necessarily THAT bad; or, this is why that happened and so I can fix it next time; or, I was just expecting too much, so I’ll dial it down and make it work (I’m particularly good at just making things “work”.)
Except, none of those thoughts were God’s thoughts, which is what can get me into trouble every time. In fact, when Jesus says He came to give me abundant life (His words, not mine), He had meaning far deeper than “just making it work”.
It seems there is an important caveat, though, one that tends to be missed. Haggai mentioned it, but Jesus really underscores it as He sermonizes on the mount:
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
One of my “needs” of the first order is clarity, to really see what is happening to me and define any personal responsibility—owning it and fixing it. Not that difficult circumstances always arise because of some sin in my life, but let’s face it, some of them do! And since life is hard of its own right, I’m just practical enough to at least try to weed the consequences of my own stupidity and go from there.
Then all that hard work diggin’ around in the compost won’t go to waste!
Haggai 1:3-6; Matthew 6:33 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.