I was listening to the Story Brand podcast this morning on the way home from dropping my daughter at school and the interview convinced me to take a spontaneous half-day of personal retreat. We've been talking about this at work, so it was already on my mind. By the way, if you’re an entrepreneur or business person of any form, you really need to be listening to that podcast!
I spent the morning writing, drawing, reading, and talking with my very best friend who can actually follow my Spiritual ramblings. During my extended study, I was led to the book of Haggai. Haggai means "my holiday". That’s pretty neat. You know, since I’m taking a bit of a holiday this morning to recharge and refresh and I landed in the book of Haggai? I love it when God does stuff like that!
Anywho, go read it so you’ll have the context and then let’s discuss. It’s only two chapters. Go, go, go!
Okay, great. Now, I ended up doing a quick study on the entire little book out of a fascination with the concepts. I connected deeply with all that I found so I want to share five key takeaways with you. And I want to hear about what you found as well!
One: Sometimes God starts a major movement with a couple of leaders and a small group of faithful followers.
The storyline in the book of Haggai centers on a prophet bringing God's message to two leaders and a small group of faithful followers. So many great movements of God start with those ingredients. When I look at my own life I can recall several times when I've had a God-breathed idea and dragged someone along for the ride, or hopped on board someone else’s great idea train. Soon we gather a few friends to ride along with us and suddenly we have a movement. Now, I’m a visionary/dreamer and big picture thinker who loves to build and inspire others to help. So maybe not everyone has had these experiences, but I'm telling you— this is how stuff happens in my life.
Two: Don’t let opposition to your success make you quit.
The two leaders and their small group of faithful followers had done as God asked and experienced quick success. This drew opposition from those who felt threatened by the work they were doing. All too easily, they gave up and stopped working on what God had assigned to them. This left them in a state of disobedience.
This is so, so common. When we set our minds to obey God and do what He wants, it's very likely that we will face opposition. I've seen this in every area of my life. I've even unwittingly acted as a force of opposition in the face of others' success. I can't pretend to get into the psychology of why we do this to one another, but we do. And when it's our turn to climb to the mountaintop, we can't give up! We have to walk on in victory! Let opposition be your inspiration to overcome by the Power of the Spirit at work in and through you. Amen?! If we quit the work that is assigned to us because of discouragement coming from the outside, we will find ourselves in a place of disobedience and no one wants to be there...
Three: Disobedience makes stuff stop working.
During their season of disobedience, they became self-focused and looked to things that didn’t satisfy to fill the void left by the distance they felt between them and God. As a result, God allowed their circumstances to crumble. Soon they found themselves in trouble, but God had mercy on them. He basically said, “You messed up and I allowed you to feel the consequences of your actions. But now I want you to get excited because it’s time to get moving again and I’m going to be with you all the way. And it’s going to be more awesome than you can even imagine!”
My husband and I have experienced this in our finances before. When the wrong things take priority and we aren’t focused on God’s goals for our lives, stuff starts falling apart. Soon, there’s no seed in the storehouse and we find ourselves in the midst of a famine. Know what I mean? Apply that to your Spiritual life, your relationships, your work… It’s a pretty universal truth. When you don’t obey, stuff falls apart.
Four: Getting back in God’s will makes stuff work again and brings God glory.
God made sure they received the lecture they deserved and also kept encouraging them while they worked hard under difficult circumstances. He knew that some of them were aware of the insurmountable nature of what they’d been asked to do so He also reminded them that a promise is a promise. God was not going to let them down.
"I am with you."
"My Spirit remains among you."
"From this day on I will bless you."
Who can be discouraged when the Father encourages us so tenderly? Are you discouraged? Let our Lord whisper those words in your ear.
I have a friend who just walked through this exact thing. She knew what God wanted her to do but it was super hard so she ran from it. God chased her down and got her back on track and now everything is just falling right into place. And she has everything she needs to be successful in the work He's assigned to her!
Five: God will provide everything you need to be successful as you walk in His will.
God supplied the group with enthusiasm for the work, material provision, support from authorities, strength to press on, and even His very Spirit. Pretty cool, huh? Even after they gave up and lost focus, God rallied them and helped them win. And all for His glory and their ultimate good.
Time and time again I've convinced people to take risks that felt big and scary to them because they didn't have the resources to make it happen at the time of deciding to jump. What I always say is, "What God wills, God funds." That mantra also gives me a lot of peace in the faith-based non-profit world as well.
You know, this is the thing that stands out to me the most: (especially in light of my scripture for the year for my one word. Go back and check that out!) when we're walking in His perfect will for us, God causes us to prosper in every way so that in everything we do we can glorify Him.
What stuck out to you while you were reading the book of Haggai? Comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’d love to keep thinking about these concepts with you. And I’d love to know what else God wants to show us through this tiny text.