The One Inescapable All-Important Determining Factor (Rising From The Ruins)
It’s the switch that turns on the lights. It’s the gas that makes the car run. It’s the rain that makes the flowers grow. It’s the oxygen that all animal life requires. It’s the beating heart that sustains our very existence. It’s critical. It’s essential. It’s the one thing you cannot forget, neglect, ignore, or abandon. It’s the one inescapable, all-important, determining factor in the equation of spiritual life, growth, and health.
What am I talking about? Easy… time alone with God.
Now, to be quite honest, you could probably stop reading at this point if you desire. I’ve already given you my main point. But if you want an analogy or two, I’m more than happy to oblige. Besides, if you are anything like me, a visual or mental picture tends to have a much greater and lasting impact. I mean, who among us hasn’t heard that we need to spend time with God? We all know the basic foundational tenets of Christian experience. Read your Bible. Pray. Worship. Fellowship. Our struggle is not one of information. We know what to do. Our struggle is much more practical in nature. Our wrestling is realized in our attempts to take what we know and put it into practice. I know I need to spend time with God. I just don’t always do it.
That was the same problem the people of God were having in the book of Haggai. For 16 long years they had exchanged the command of God for their own personal pursuits. Their initial passion had been replaced by a perpetual apathy. The Temple lay in ruins while they had been busy building and renovating their own homes. Sadly, the reasons for this tragic spiritual indifference were not that dramatic. It had begun because of opposition but it had been prolonged by simple preoccupation. Over time other things had become more important that their relationship with God. Other, more trivial things had taken the place of preeminence and prominence in their lives. Yes, they loved God. Yes, they still respected God. But He had become secondary to their own longings for comfort, convenience, and security. Intimacy with God had been forfeited in pursuit of their own pleasures.
And so, God gives a clear directive. “Go up to the mountains…” Think about it for a minute. Why the mountains? What? There was no wood located closer to the city? Why send them all the way to the mountain top? There were 2 reasons actually. First of all, God wanted to remind the people of all that they had forfeited. Throughout the OT the mountain top had represented the place where God met with His people. Remember all those times that Moses had ascended the mountain to meet with God? Yep. It wasn’t that God lived on the mountain top. Let’s be real. He is everywhere all at once. It was symbolic. In this instance the mountain top call was meant to be a reminder. God wanted to meet with His people. He wanted the fellowship to be restored. He longed for renewed intimacy.
Secondly, the mountain was all about separation. It helped create distance, i.e., it would remove the people from the major source of their spiritual distraction. The idea was simple. Get away and get apart from the hindrance. Leave your homes behind and set your sights on the things of God. Stop focusing so much time and effort on the source of your preoccupation and allow your passion for God to be rekindled. The mountain top enabled them to get alone with God in a way that no other arena allowed.
If you read yesterday’s note, you are aware that the book of Haggai is a call to rebuild the Temple. That which lay in ruins had been divinely appointed for restoration. The broken was about to be repaired. The desolate was about to be rededicated. God’s people were going to rebuild their spiritual heritage, legacy, and sense of national purpose. But first they had to renew the broken relationship. I want to remind each of us today that nothing in our lives can be rebuilt apart from His presence and power. The call that God issued to His people is the same admonition that comes to each of us. Get away! Get apart! And get alone with God! In His presence we discover all that we need to rebuild the broken areas of our lives. In His presence is fulness of joy. In His presence is peace that passes all understanding. In His presence we find strength, guidance, and provision. All that we will ever need, all that we could ever possibly want, can be realized in His presence.
So, what are you waiting on? Stop making excuses and start making tracks. Go up to the mountain. Get alone with God.
Like to read more on this topic? Here are two other blogs to consider:
1. “An Irresistible Invitation” http://justathoughtdevotionals.com/2011/03/30/an-irresistible-invitation/
2. “A Life-Changing Opportunity” http://justathoughtdevotionals.com/2011/03/31/a-life-changing-opportunity/