Part of our summer vacation has been spent with family and “old” high school, college and seminary friends. The universal theme of each re-acquaintance? “My body is falling apart!” Some good "old" seminary friends took us to the Louisville Slugger factory in Kentucky, where Roy and George were reminded of their age in the batting cage. The guy said the pitches were only coming at 35 mph, but since we all may be candidates for hearing aids soon, maybe he said 135 mph?
Age is one of those great tools God uses to shake us up. Health, finances, children’s behavior – all these, and many more, are also factors beyond our control that God uses to shake everything up and separate the temporary from the enduring elements in our lives. Without the shaking, we’d never understand the lasting quality of the truly important things.
Haggai 2:1-3 – “On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: ‘Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, `Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?’”
- The older we get, the more loss we endure – relationally, materially, occupationally, and even in our identity. As we get older, we have seen more, done more and know more. It’s harder to be humble, and we feel as if we deserve a little return on our investment in life. Unfortunately, these attitudes can sabotage humble, gracious senior saints. If we keep our focus on temporal, earthly things, comparisons of days gone by will soon bring discouragement and despair. Even twenty-somethings begin to see their wisdom grow and then discarded by those who make seemingly thoughtless decisions built on sand.
Haggai 2:4-5 – “‘But now be strong, O Zerubbabel,’ declares the LORD. ‘Be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear’” (emphasis added).
- No matter what the outward appearance of the small, replacement Temple, God encouraged the older Jews to be strong and keep working – not in their own strength, but because His Spirit remained among them. The Lord knows we can’t do it by ourselves. He knows our bodies, our will-power, our minds, our commitments will fail. That’s why He left His Spirit among the Jews in Jerusalem, and that’s why He has given us His Spirit to dwell within us to do what our mortal bodies and minds will otherwise be unable to do. And He instructs – and equips – us to do it without FEAR.
Haggai 2:6-9 – “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.’”
- God’s peace is not cotton clouds and strumming cherubs. God’s peace comes out of the shaking. It is resounding praise born out of chaos. God chose to shake the mediocre and temporal to reveal the glorious and eternal.
Lord, I know that You are all that lasts. You and you alone are my peace. Though You shake the very ground beneath my feet, I will trust in You to bring that glorious, enigmatic peace that comes by trusting You in the midst of the tremor. You are the Island in the vast ocean of uncertainty. You are the Anchor that drops beneath the violent storm. You are my Mighty Fortress, where I hide while the battles rage around me. Let it be so, Father.