They don’t have to do it too often any more. And while I don’t think they had to do it A LOT when they were younger . . . I can recall times when my girls had to take special action to ensure they had my attention. Not that I willfully ignored them . . . I just could kinda’ be distracted and never really tune into the conversation they were wanting to have happen. And so, on occasion, . . . unfortunately, on more occasions than should have been, or that I want to remember, . . . one or more of my daughters would have to take their hands . . . place them on my cheeks . . . turn my face toward theirs . . . look me in the eye . . . make sure we had eye-to-eye contact . . . and say, “Focus Dad!”
Kind of what the LORD had to do with the people who had returned from captivity to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Focus!
Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. . . . Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. (Haggai 1:4-5, 7-8 ESV)
Now then, consider from this day onward. Before stone was placed upon stone in the temple of the LORD, how did you fare? Consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Since the day that the foundation of the LORDs temple was laid, consider: Is the seed yet in the barn? (Haggai 2:15-16a, 18-19a ESV)
God had stirred their hearts to take up Cyrus’ offer to return from the land of Babylon and rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:5). But they got a bit distracted. After all, they had their own homes to rebuild, too . . . their own fields to reestablish . . . and spending long periods away in Jerusalem was risky given they likely had neighbors who weren’t too thrilled about them being back in the neighborhood. Besides, the temple work wasn’t the easiest of works . . . it wasn’t just the labor involved, but the opposition from some of the governing authorities, as well. In a way, who could blame them that, over the years, they had allowed the temple work to fade on their radar as they shifted their focus, more and more, on their own homes.?
But the LORD, through Haggai, says, Consider your ways . . . consider the work . . . set your heart on what you were called to do . . . put first things first.
Not a bad exhortation to heed from time to time. To pause, sit back, and take inventory on where my time’s going . . . on the priorities that are consuming my energies. To look at the “fruit of my labors” and make sure it’s the crop God’s wants me to be tending to and that it’s not choking out other “fields” He would have me to work first.
Really don’t want to get to the point where I am so distracted by the world’s ways or my personal agendas that the LORD has to grab my face and turn my eyes toward His, and say, “Focus!” Instead, would rather yield to the gentle prompting of the Spirit of grace to quiet my heart and set my heart towards seeking first His kingdom . . . trusting that then, “all these things will be added to you.”
Focus . . . by His grace . . . for His glory.