Now this is what the LORD Almighty says:

Give careful thought to your ways.

Haggai 1:5, 7

The Lord speaks these same words twice within just a very short passage of Scripture. So, I’m thinking God wants us to pay really close attention to what He is saying. And here, the Lord is telling us to pay attention, to be aware of, to give careful thought to what we are doing.

These words of God’s challenge and encouragement, correction and direction were given to His people who, after years of exile, had been allowed to return to Jerusalem. God called them – and even made it possible for them – to rebuild the temple. And His people accepted this task and did indeed start their God-given, purposeful project. After two years of committed work, the foundation of the new temple was completed. And there was great celebration!

But, then, the work on the temple just stopped. People got busy with their own lives, with their own homes, with their own schedules, with their own priorities. With their own everything. They focused away from God’s priorities even that soon after everything they had suffered as a people exiled because of disobedience to their God. Even that soon after God had made a way for them to come back to their homeland.

What about me? How quickly, if I am not careful, do I get back into my own ways of doing things? How soon do I get back into my own patterns of behaviors and thoughts that ignore and dismiss God and, even, outrightly disobey Him? How often do I put my priorities and perspectives above the Lord’s call on, and His desire for, my life? How easy is it for me to just focus on myself and on what I want, if I do not consciously and carefully take the time to think about the fact that my entire life belongs to God?

My honest answer to each of these questions: far too quickly, far too often and far too easily.

It is out of God’s love for us that He calls us to give careful thought to our ways. Our God knows that setting Him and His will above our own is what will truly bring us the greatest peace, the greatest security, the greatest joy and the greatest fulfillment our lives could ever know. We were made to be in relationship with our God. We were made to trust God’s love for us and follow His ways for our lives, which are always the way to life – true life. But we get out of balance with this truth. We get deceived, and stop trusting God and His love for us. We get busy, and focus on our own plans and priorities. We get selfish, and want what we want when we want it and how we want it. We get prideful, and think and act as if our own ways and self-set purposes are of utmost importance and the ultimate truth for our lives.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.

John 14:6

As we recognize our tendencies to go our own ways, I pray that each of us, with trusting in God’s unfailing love and His ever-willing heart to help us and lead us, will return to doing things God’s ways. Far more quickly, far more often and far more easily!

God’s ways are always for our best and come only from His love. Think about that! Carefully!