My hands trembled as I opened the envelope. I had studied for countless hours for this professional certification exam and the long-awaited results had finally arrived.
“Yes!” I shouted with total exhilaration. My hard work had paid off. I was another step closer to a corner office in the executive wing.
A few years later, I smiled confidently at my business card — Senior Vice President. My self-assurance, however, was decimated in the coming months by an unexpected phone call after a routine mammogram. I stared at the date on my calendar. It was the one-year anniversary of my mom’s passing from breast cancer. I felt numb as the doctor advised me to come in for additional testing.
In the weeks ahead, fear gripped my heart and occupied my every thought as tests progressed to a scheduled surgery. In my desperation, I devoured Scripture while begging for God’s mercy.
One day, during my quiet time, I heard His gentle but convicting voice, You have been busy building your own kingdom all these years, striving for success and significance through your career.
I had accepted Jesus over a decade earlier, but I had put my faith in a neat package. God was in one box and my career in another. I worked hard to climb up the corporate ladder, eagerly taking courses to further my career but only reading my Bible if time permitted. God was nowhere near the top of my priorities.
In the book of Haggai, God warns His people to evaluate their actions since returning from Babylonian captivity to Jerusalem.
“Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.”
Haggai 1:5b-6 (ESV)
He even repeats this phrase “consider your ways” in verse 7 for emphasis. The people had been building their own houses while His temple laid in ruins. As a result, God causes a drought in the land.
“Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”
Haggai 1:10-11 (ESV)
Haggai points out that the people’s misplaced priorities caused the drought and crop failures.
How often do we focus our energies on building our own kingdoms while neglecting His? God gently reminded me that my own misplaced priorities had caused a spiritual drought.
When the Israelites decide to obey the Lord and begin to rebuild His temple, God sends a reassuring Word through the prophet Haggai and says, “I am with you” (Haggai 1:13). Decades earlier, the prophet Ezekiel warned the Israelites of God’s impending judgement if they did not turn away from worshipping foreign gods. God gave Ezekiel a heartbreaking vision of His presence leaving the temple as His people continued in unabashed disobedience.
The rebuilding of the temple during the life of Haggai invites the long-awaited presence of the Lord to return to their midst. When the people become discouraged in their efforts, God repeats the reminder to them, “I am with you” (Haggai 2:4).
As work progresses on the temple, God sends this promise to His people, “And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:9).
Peace comes when we spend time in God’s presence.
In the days leading up to my surgery, His truth, love, and majesty collided on the pages of Scripture, covering me with a pervasive sense of peace. When the day came for the surgery, I called my husband to tell him my instructions from the hospital. As I listened to his soft sobs over the phone, I heard myself calmly saying, “It’s going to be okay. God has told me, ‘I am with you.’”
In that moment, I knew I found significance — not in my striving but in my searching for the One who gives life and meaning.
Are you in the midst of a spiritual drought? God patiently waits for us to earnestly seek Him to experience the fullness of His presence.Leave a Comment