It’s easy to get distracted from the good work God intends for us to do. Competing forces vie for our attention; we’re sidetracked by fear or selfishness. We start living our own stories and lose sight of the greater narrative, of which our lives are just one thread.
The Jewish exiles who returned to Jerusalem had begun the work of reconstructing the temple, a symbol of God’s presence among His people. In the rebuilding of the temple, they gathered up the remnants of their broken identities and together formed a collective identity as Yahweh’s people. They had their priorities in order.
Then they got distracted. When they started putting their own needs and security first, the Lord sent the prophet Haggai to remind them of their true purpose: “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your houses that have been paneled while this house is desolate?… Consider your ways! You have sown much but have harvested little. You have eaten without being satisfied; you have drunk without being satiated; you have worn clothes without being warm; the one who earns wages puts it in a pouch with holes” (Hag 1:6).
The work that the Jewish exiles did outside of God’s purpose for them had no lasting effect or real merit. Because they were neglecting their first calling, their frantic attempts to meet their own selfish needs were doomed to fail anyway. Outside of the Lord, there could be no blessing! God used Haggai to speak this truth into the lives of the Jewish exiles, but he also encouraged them with his presence: “I am with you” (Hag 1:13).
Listen to the words of Haggai. Speak truth into fear and selfishness—either your own or others. Remember that you’re not meant to travel through life on your own, outside of this great narrative or apart from the presence of God.
What is the priority in your life right now? How can you shift away from priorities that aren’t part of God’s grand scheme for your life?