Friday, March 12, 2010

Lessons from Haggai...The Latter Glory

My little girl loves to fly around like superman.

The other day my husband was flying her around the house, when suddenly he pulled her close and said with abrupt realization, “You’re not always going to be this little!” Of course, I have that same thought every day. When I look at her little four-month old face, I see how much she has grown already. I remember how she weighed next to nothing and how she used to cuddle up like a little roly-poly and fall asleep on top of me in a heartbeat. Now she fidgets so much that she hardly ever falls asleep in my lap anymore, and even though 14 pounds is relatively small, it certainly starts to wear out my bicep a lot faster than 7 pounds!!!

I have always had a hard time with memories. For most people, that probably means that it’s hard to deal with the bad things that have happened in the past. But I’m not most people. I really struggle with the good memories. I want them back. It’s bittersweet to remember good times, because they are gone. So with my daughter, I could very easily become sad over the moments that are so fleeting because once they are gone, I just can’t get them back.

I learned recently that Haggai was probably in his eighties when he prophesied to God’s people. His message was to encourage them to continue the work of rebuilding the temple after they returned from exile. One of the problems he addressed was that of discouragement over good memories. The people were watching the new temple form, and the ones who were old enough to remember were saddened because the new temple was not nearly as beautiful or glorious as the old one. “Oh, the good old days.” Haggai was old enough to remember the glory of the old temple as well. But he offered a different perspective.

“Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison? But now, take courage…I will fill this house with glory…The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts, and in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.”

The memory of the old temple was glorified in the people’s minds. But they were so busy missing what used to be that they were literally missing the most wonderful promise in the world. The latter glory of this house was that this temple – not the old one – would be the place where God Himself would be brought as a baby to be dedicated; where He would teach the heart of the law; where He would rip the curtain that separated us from Him. This would be the temple where Messiah would walk.

Can you imagine the tragic irony of someone who was so caught up in lamenting what the temple used to be like, that he missed God in the flesh, standing right in front of him? I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to relive the glory days at the expense of missing God’s blessings and the lessons that He is teaching me today. I don’t want to be so sad over missing my newborn girl that I fail to see her four-month-old personality that is so precious – her wide grins, her alert gaze, her new discoveries of what she can do. I don’t want to live off of the rush of past spiritual victories and miss the new things that God is teaching me about faith and about Himself.

“His mercies are new every morning.” I want to give thanks for what has been, but live in the present so that I can see those mercies every day. “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!”