As I write, my youngest is getting ready for school with “show me what I’m looking for” cranking out of her iPod. It couldn’t be more true than this morning.
Today, I feel exhausted. I shared a little yesterday. My husband and I spent 8 hours in the parking lot of the Blue Ridge mountains trying to see my son at App State for parent’s weekend. We arrived at his dorm to pick him up for “lunch” at 3:15 p.m. only to have to take him to a drive-through at Cook-out because traffic was so bad. We dropped him back off at his dorm so he could get to the football game. I never even gave him a hug. Not exactly what I had in mind; not really enough for this mom.
This morning, I’m asking God “show me what I’m looking for” and I know I am not alone. The Israelites of the Old Testament asked the same thing.
Let’s head to the book of Deuteronomy. God is addressing the same problem with His people. The Israelites, slaves in Egypt, cried out to God to free them. God made them a promise: freedom and a land all to themselves. In return they made a promise to worship Him alone and not mixed with the neighbors who didn’t love Him.
With the promise, He gave a warning in Deuteronomy 8: 10 – 14, & 17 – 18:
“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. …You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.”
Years went by and the Israelites did not do their part. Their hearts were distracted; they looked just like the neighbors. So God allowed the neighbors, the Babylonians, to overtake them. They drug the Israelites back to Babylon.
After seventy years, God allowed them to returned to their land. We’ll catch up with them in Haggai 1: 4 – 6 & 9. The people are busy; busy working on their houses, their wardrobes and their pantries. What they are not busy with is repairs to the destroyed temple where they went to worship God.
Now keep this in mind as we read this: God knows that when we are worshipping Him we are most content; we are fulfilled; we are complete. Here is what he has to say to the people, starting in verse 4:
Haggai 1: 4 – 6 & 9 “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! (It must have been tax season!) You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses.” NLT
Why are things are not working out the way the Israelites want? Why is life not rosy and they are discontent? God said it was because His house, the temple, was in ruins. If the temple was still in ruins what did it say about their relationship with God? It was most likely in ruins as well!
So what was God’s reaction to the fact that they were putting their homes, wardrobes and pantries above Him? He said that He was blowing everything else away; in other words, he was not blessing them.
That sure sounds selfish of God, don’t you think?! He wants to be first and get all of the attention; to the point of allowing us to be miserable? Sure sounds selfish to me!
That was my first reaction and then I thought, “You know better! You know that God is not selfish.”He’s not selfish but the Bible does define Him as One who is jealous. In fact, I found ten verses saying that He is a jealous God.
God is jealous because He knows that in Him and Him alone will we find what we are looking for; in Him alone we are complete. God was not allowing the people to enjoy their homes, harvests, clothes and pantries because He was not going to allow the things of this earth, including relationships, to satisfy them. He wants us to be satisfied in Him! He wants us to find all of the desires of our heart in HIM and that is not selfish because He knows that when we are in Him that is where we are complete!
God is saying, “Look at what is going on in your life! You are giving all of your time, energy, money and emotions to trying to get ahead or ast least keep our heads above water. We want that new job and when we get it we complain that it is too hard! We pray and ask Him to bring us a husband and when we get him we look at only his faults. We want desperately to bring a baby into our family and then when the baby arrives we can’t wait until they are out of diapers. It is an ENDLESS cycle of wanting the next thing! Like the Israelites, we are putting things in pockets filled with holes.
These THINGS we keep looking to will NEVER SATISFY US, yet we don’t get it. We keep thinking that if we could just have this new thing or that problem solved, then we would be happy. Eleanor Roosevelt said that happiness is not a goal; it is a byproduct. A byproduct of what?
Let’s talk about that tomorrow….