Our church has started a series of sermons on the little, but important book of Haggai. Yesterday I could hear two sermons at one time--the one the pastor was speaking from the pulpit and the one being impressed on my heart by God through His Word.
Haggai was a prophet who lived during Darius' time and Israel was neglecting their responsibility of rebuilding the temple while building themselves luxurious homes. God told Haggai to tell them they were sowing much and harvesting little, eating a lot and never satisfied, clothing themselves and not warm, and gaining money that didn't last. It was like they were caught in this cycle of wanting more and never feeling satisfied, causing them to be so focused on themselves they neglected God's calling to rebuild. He also told them their struggle with dissatisfaction was caused by God's discipline on their lives. He tells them that because His house was still lying in ruins, though they sowed much the small harvest they experienced was due to the rains He withheld and the fruit of their labor that didn't go far was because He was blow it away.
I could relate to this passage on so many levels. There are times I have this deep seated dissatisfaction smoldering in my heart. It can be quite uncomfortable and I've tried many things to fill it. At times I thought a new house would fill it and it did. Temporarily! Then I wanted a house with a bigger kitchen, hardwood floors, or a swimming pool. There were times I believed a new car would satisfy my heart and it did. Temporarily! The satisfaction was short lived and I wanted a smaller car, then a bigger car, and now a sports car with a convertible top that I know would play havoc on these old dry eyes. There are times I've bought clothes, thinking I'd be more satisfied with my appearance only to glace in the glass doors at church and instantly want a different dress. Even food has exposed this dissatisfied heart of mine. Some nights I think I'm hungry and look for the food I'm craving. I grab it and eat it and realize it didn't satisfy. So I go back, look for something else, then something else after that. There were times, I even played with the idea that a different husband could make me happier.
When I look at the list, I realize not one of those things is bad. Each one of them brings some measure of pleasure and I don't think experiencing pleasure is sin or God would not have created me with a brain designed for pleasure. The problem is God created me with a heart designed to find its deepest satisfaction, fulfillment, pleasure, and joy in an intimate relationship with Him. When I neglect that relationship, my heart-hunger for God gets stirred and I tend to turn to the things that bring easy pleasure and find myself feeling more and more frustrated, looking for the one thing that satisfies.
But God--God knowing my heart was never designed to find deep soul satisfaction in a dwelling made with hands, in cute sports cars, in a new hair colors, in a new dresses, in different cookie flavors, or a different man has always intervened. He first intervened by inviting me into this loving relationship with Him by exposing my sin and my tendency to search for satisfaction apart from Him. Second, He' faithfully and graciously disciplines me when I begin to look for satisfaction apart from Him. As our pastor, Matt, said yesterday the discipline of God is a grace--a grace that prevents the sin in my heart from running rampant in my life. Without it, I would keep buying things that can't satisfy, I would be divorcing my eighth husband, I would be continually run from hard relationships instead of learning to love well, I would be looking for satisfaction in things, titles, jobs, and people that have no ability to satisfy the deepest desires written on my heart by the Creator, Himself.
Oh, there are signs I see, telling me I am going down the old path of dissatisfaction again. I find myself frequently window shopping for stuff not needed. I find myself thinking I'd be happier with________________. (You can fill in the blank!) I find myself going into the kitchen for the umpteenth time, stuffed but still looking for what can satisfy. I find myself living with an ungrateful heart, instead of thanking God for His gracious gifts. I find a slow burning anger dwelling within that comes from never feeling completely satisfied because I'm looking for satisfaction in what can't satisfy. These signs all tell me I've neglected my relationship with God. I've not spent time in His Word, not practiced His presence, not fostered a life of continual prayer, and not faithfully fulfilled the ministry to which He's called me.
So why do I tend to find myself dissatisfied? Sometimes I do it because my relationship with Him, like all relationships, takes time and effort and I tend to be a lazy soul. Sometimes I do it because I am selfish and I ten to want immediate gratification. Sometimes I do it because of unbelief and shame that causes me to forget God can and does use broken people like me who trust Him. Sometimes I do it because I don't want to face the pain I feel and obey God in confronting sin to stop the pain. Sometimes I do it because I don't want to face the discomfort of acknowledging sin to God and to others. Sometimes I do this because in the pursuit of pleasure and joy, I forget that the easy pleasures of this world are like a sugar high that feels good initially and then quickly drops me, leaving me more miserable than before.
But Grace! Grace is having a God who reminds me to "consider my ways!" Haggai (1:5) It is having a God that reminds me when I seek to fill myself apart from Him I will "never have my fill." (Haggai 1:5) Grace is having a God that wants me to experience true satisfaction that comes from intimacy with Him, loving others well, and doing what I was created to do--bring pleasure to His heart and glorify His name! (Haggai 1:8)
Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!