"…. 'Is there anyone among the faithful few who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Doesn't it seem like nothing to you?'" (Haggai 2:3 GW)
I can still remember as I sat in the hard wooden pew in the beautifully adorned chapel on Bowery Street in New York City and listening to the power of God transform a friend of mine into a prophetess speaking to His people….challenging them…..enticing them with the powerful words from Haggai….one of the 'minor' prophets in the Old Testament. The one I jokingly refer to as "The woman formerly known as Veronica..." because I kept on forgetting her name……I'm horrible with names.
She challenged not only the men of the Bowery Mission, but the team of which she was a part, to remember God's promises in Haggai and throughout the biblical text. Not only to remember; but to think, dwell and work with it flowing throughout our lives, our hands and our thoughts…..
As I step closer and closer to this new adventure in the Moody Theological Seminary and wonder about the financial end of it…..in addition to the waiver request and the returning to school…..I was struck by something one of my pastors (yes, I am a child of two spiritual fathers at the moment) asked of me Sunday….'how's the hope going?' Re-reading TWFKAV's notes, the third verse of the second chapter hit me between the eyes……
It is easy, once the magnificence of the dream fades into the reality and routine of this journey, to forget it altogether and start dwelling on the things that you've entrusted to God's hand. Pulling those things back like a covering; to protect you from the possible disappointment of dreaming too big.
God never said that this new adventure, this turning back from the mission fields for this season and progressing into the really impossible dream of going to Seminary and pursuing the MDiv degree wasn't going to be difficult and work….work….work. And, even if I work as hard as I possibly can…..it detracts nothing from God's glory….because it is God who has brought me to this place to be equipped in His service, and the undeniability of His hand lies upon it everywhere I look…….
But that's how it goes for most of us, even the most mature among us. We are caught up in the passion of the moment, carried along by the uplifting swell of God's pleasure and measure and coasting along after the hard work of being developed to take the next step into His purpose for us……..as soon as the crest dies down, the passion tempers and the forward momentum slows we start looking up at the impossible and seeing impossibilities…..nothing but the shadowy half-filled image of God's possibilities.
It's not hard to do……none of us remember the Garden, none of us remember walking with God in its coolness and none of us remember what it is like to truly walk without sin hampering our every step, our every thought and cruelly cutting our burdened hearts once again. And the fragile remembrance of our humanity begs mercy even after we've partaken of God's blessings and abundance….for even in the absence of major movement from God in our lives; He walks with us still and talks with us unceasingly. But some of us don't even remember that moment in time when we crossed the threshold of our own humanity and opened the door to a waiting Savior. Life has a way of demanding our focus and our attention and the spiritual becomes nothing more than fanciful dreams that die with the dawning of the new day. Sin, the struggle against the all-too-personal attacks of the Enemy against our new nature, chips away at our assurance and erodes our defenses. We work less joyfully, less purposefully and with dying energy.
It, after all, looks like nothing to us by this time. And we begin to worry about the things that are happening around us rather than the things that are happening for us to lead us into a greater activity for the glory of God.
We don't want to be foolish upon that day if, as the disciples gathered hidden in the great room for fear of the Jews who had killed Jesus……He doesn't show. We don't like to put our eggs all in one basket and then throw it off the cliff.
But our life, absent of God's purpose and salvation, is nothing and the sufferings that come because of our disobedience are wasted pains and agonies that do nothing but bring the Devil his glory and due….stealing from God, that is all we are doing. Haggai told the people in the first chapter of this really small book that they were denying God, making Him wait upon their own selfish needs to be satisfied first and then refusing still to do what He would have them do…..and are punished through the fragility and stupidity of their selfishness because of the vacancy of God's provisioning. So is it with the modern day chosen, holy adopted children of God……..
It is an impossible dream God has given me; to be equipped as a Pastor to go into the mission fields of either domestic or foreign and preach His word…..it is impossible for me to finance the adventure in the Seminary, though I could work full time and go to school full time….at the expense of my children and my relationship with Shannon……but impossible to do so and make sure it isn't at their expense. It is foolish of me to stand out there, declaring the favor of the Lord in this and declare even as men may decide to withhold their approval, I will continue to step into it as God declared……and revisit the council again in the future about reconsideration…….banking on an impossible dream and devoting all I have to it….on the off chance that I may be able to correct it in the future.
The temple lies in ruins and I'm not even past clearing out the rubble……..yet I am speaking of the former glories now forgotten?
I've gone off the deep end. I must be crazy.
I don't even have my double-wide mobile home signed for yet….waiting on the revised tax refund to come in……I don't even have material to fix it, or have ripped out the things that need replacing…..I haven't found that job to work full-time…I haven't even registered for the MTS program, because I don't know which one I'll be able to take….let alone pay for it. This could be very messy, getting approved for the Seminary and then finding out that I can't fix up the trailer enough to live in it…..or so on……..
I'm forty-two years old planning to get out of Seminary by forty-six, well beyond the years of what a 'typical' church wants their beginning pastors to be………………..
God works for those who love Him….true…..
God equips the called……………………….yep, that's what the saying on the street is…….
But do I remember that, do I truly…..as Pastor Shannon said this Easter Sunday…..BELIEVE that?
Am I willing to foolishly expect the living of the impossible in my life?
Am I willing to suspend all my desires, wants and needs so I can be subjected to God's greater desires?
Then as my friend spoke into the gathered crowd in the Bowery chapel that cold March day………"Stop brushing God's truth aside and DECIDE to move forward…..one foot in front of the other…."
Because of a former glory hazy and forgotten by our fragile human minds……..and the call of a Lord and Savior that we have yet to see……..
Because of the promises He has left us in the Spirit and the proven power of His grace declared upon an Easter Sunday so long ago……..
God wants me to go to Seminary…..as an MDiv student…..supported and edified by those in the Body……to be what He has called me to be once He has finished equipping me……..
And what is your response to the impossibility of supporting this dream?
Maybe you should read Haggai with the sheaf of notes from my friend in hand………
And change your answer.