Consult the priests for a ruling. If someone carries a piece of sacred meat in his pocket, meat that is set apart for sacrifice on the altar, and the pocket touches a loaf of bread, a dish of stew, a bottle of wine or oil, or any other food, will these foods be made holy by such contact?” The priests said, “No.” Then Haggai said, “How about someone who is contaminated by touching a corpse—if that person touches one of these foods, will it be contaminated?” The priests said, “Yes, it will be contaminated.”Haggai 2:11-13 MSG
With a pandemic virus going around, contamination is very serious. Social distancing, quarantines, businesses being shut down, schools not being open, all for the sake so that we don’t get contaminated. For many people, it’s a hassle, an annoyance, boring, and frustrating. Yet, what happens when we get new nails, or a new haircut, or new clothes. Don’t we hinder many routine things we do, to not mess up our shiny new look? To show off what we have? Why is it easier to hinder our lifestyle for a day for something so temporal, but when something detrimental for our health hinders our lifestyle, we find ourselves complaining.
This was my attitude going in. Why complain, why fight? Just do the best I can with what I got. But, as human beings we’re social creatures. The Bible even says it’s not good for man to be alone. God said this when it was Him and Adam in paradise with many animals. So even though Adam had God, and animals, he still needed someone else.
I have a bad habit of soldiering on and taking pride in my independence. Those sound like helpful traits to have in a crazy time such as now. What’s wrong with going forward, with self-sufficiency? That’s the thing though. Who is telling you to keep going? Who is holding you up?
Self. You on your own, are taking back control, reclaiming your normalcy or defying those who demand you change. It’s all on you.
So where is God? Do we ever complain to God that we’re bored or that we don’t have enough toilet paper or masks? Do we yell at God because working from home or losing your job is so frustrating, we’re going bald?
Recently, my pastor, Damon Reeves (a very wise and amazing man, look him up on Facebook), talked about finding normalcy WITH God. And I thought I was by reading and praying as I’m stuck inside, but I wasn’t. God knows we’re social creatures, even when we don’t want to be.
I was great at social distancing. And not the stay three to six feet away from me social distancing. I was great at the, smile wave, talk about them. Keep work at work, friends between days off, and family at home. Every part of my social life had its own place and time. It was comfortable.
Then this happened. Work had to be brought home, friends were not able to go out, family is all the time. And while that is great, it bothered me when co-workers started to come over or call during family time. My work was being frustrating and I just couldn’t leave or go somewhere else because I was working at home. My friends were calling to check up on me. The boundaries I put in place were being crossed. To me, my home was being contaminated.
This is where Haggai comes in. It’s a book in the Bible, only two chapters about rebuilding God’s temple. But here’s the kicker, God’s people were only kind of working on God’s temple. They put it on the back burner. So, God says, “Hey! I’m here. I exist. I AM GOD.” And soon all the things that God’s people normally did were disrupted. Specifically, they were losing profit from farming and livestock. They began to fret and worry, still ignoring God. Until God told Haggai to go to the leaders. Haggai told them that God’s people had contaminated His temple by not treating it with the sanctity it deserved, by letting it touch things it shouldn’t with their carelessness. So, the leaders get on it. They fix what they need to and God is pleased. Happy ending for everyone!
As I read this something hit me. And no, it was not to establish my boundaries harder and to ignore my friends or work (granted I kind of wanted it to be that, it wasn’t). I realized; I haven’t given any of my relationships the proper respect they deserved. I kept them in bubbles or boxes that I could understand, that wouldn’t hurt me. I didn’t give them to God. And in not respecting them, I wasn’t respecting God.
Yes, this is a time of social distancing, but, as my amazing pastor said, it’s also a time to recheck. Recheck your priorities, your normal. Was it your normal of putting things in a routine or a time and place? Or was it God’s will?
Right now, it’s hard to live in the moment and it’s hard to establish routine. So, don’t do either. Live in God. Establish yourself in God. God even told His people that on their own, they sucked at rebuilding His temple, but with Him they would build it better than it was before.
The world might call this a time of social distancing, but the purpose is to not be contaminated. Let’s decontaminate ourselves. Whether that means distancing ourselves or calling a co-worker to see how they’re doing, let that be up to God. Let Him decontaminate you. Let Him in. Respect Him, because He will respect, love, and cherish you more than you can imagine. He will rebuild you to be greater than you ever have been.