“You have looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because my house lies in ruins, while all of you hurry off to your own houses.” (Haggai 1:9)
When the people of Judah returned to Jerusalem after the Exile in Babylon, they were excited to return to what had once been their home. They would rebuild the city. They would once again have a Temple to help them feel rooted and connected to God.
But when they got back, like things often go, events did not unfold as planned. Their first efforts to rebuild their society were fragile. Early construction on the Temple was sidetracked by infighting, opposition from local people who already lived in the area, and the distractions of putting their own lives together. Eventually, although the Exile had taught them the importance of putting God first and at the center, God once again felt ignored and marginalized. The verse above expresses God’s frustration with, once again, being put on the sidelines of people’s attention. As a result, the efforts that the people put forth were out of alignment with God’s desires – they were failing anyway.
We often do the same thing. Who doesn’t think, “I would like to spend more time focusing on God?” We all know it is helpful and important to do so. But we are busy and tied up with work, sports, and distractions that fill our schedules and each day, if we aren’t careful, we can live with God right there with us (God is always right there with us) and forget and not even notice.
God in Christ has inserted God’s own self right in the middle of our lives. When God came in Jesus, it felt like enough of an intrusion that we crucified him. But the resurrection announced that God will not be marginalized – God persistently inserts God’s self right back into our lives.
That means to live honest, authentic and meaningful lives we have to give attention to God as a centering point. Only acknowledging that simple fact allows us to see the world as it really is: God’s world with God at the center. So, why live out of the illusion that our lives are our own? Simply accept the good news that God loves you enough to spend 24/7 with you all the way into eternity, and start paying more attention now. It is the beginning of renewal and a way to allow abundant life in Christ to flourish within us.