Asked to write an entire story in just six words, Ernest Hemingway produced one. His six-word story had characters and a plot that left the reader filled with emotion. Do you have a six-word story? How would you describe your life in the past three years surviving a worldwide pandemic and today, making meaning of your new reality?
The once exiled Israelites, who were returning to the Promised Land after 70 years in captivity, had a six-word story. Their story went like this:
We sinned. Consequences dispensed. Forgiveness sought.
The book of Haggai picks up 18 years after the first group of exiles returned from Babylon. These returning exiles – known as the postexilic community – were back home and busy building houses and establishing roots. Memories of captivity and death seemed distant and their fervor for serving the Lord, who had rescued them, was slowly fading away.
I believe we, as Christians, are experiencing something similar right now. We all have a call from God to build the church post-Covid. That means restarting programs or creating new ones, connecting with the community again through acts of service, and most importantly energizing our fellow brothers and sisters to share the good news of the gospel with grateful hearts. Here is what God said to the postexilic community and is saying to us now:
“’I am with you,’ declares the LORD. So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty, their God,” Haggai 1:13c – 14
It is hard work to focus on God’s business and not our own – there is so much to be distracted (and discouraged!) by right now. People around the globe have experienced a shaking that has left so many rattled. Violence is everywhere, God’s people have become a target for things wrong in the world, and some of our dear neighbors are living without hope. We cannot let ourselves get sidetracked like God’s people almost did. God is extending His grace on our efforts to rebuild His earthly dwellings and to consider new ways to reach people with the salvation message. Consider praying that your church would rise up and shine brightly for Him – bringing love and truth to the lost. Personally, consider carrying around a prayer journal that you can jot down the names of people you casually encounter in your community who need prayer. Also consider asking Him to help you put aside good intentions and begin to step into His plan for your life.