“I will fill this house with glory,” says the LORD Almighty. “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house, ” says the LORD Almighty. – Haggai 2:7c, 9a
Last week I shared a bittersweet season in our lives, when we said “goodbye” to the house on the lake that had been our home for 30+ years and prepared to move to Louisville, Kentucky, where our oldest daughter Joanna and her family lived, and where she had persuaded us we needed to be!
Ever since Joanna was a toddler, we’ve observed how her prayers got answered. I would be frantically searching for a lost item, Joanna would fold her chubby little hands and pray, and the next thing I knew, there it was.
So, when grown-up Joanna said (or threatened) that she was going to pray we’d find a house where she wanted us to be, I was encouraged. But even I didn’t expect the call that came nine hours later as we were eating breakfast in her kitchen.
“Good morning,” said our realtor. “Would you like to look at a house in the Highlands that’s not due to go on the market for six weeks?”
(I’ll let you guess the answer to that one.)
The couple selling the house should have had their own reality show. The husband was a contractor, the wife a real estate agent, and together they flipped houses. This little house, almost a hundred years old, had all new plumbing and electrical wiring, and was in the process of getting new cabinets, cupboards, hardware, flooring, and more.
When we first arrived, the little bit of house that we could see peeked out from under at least a foot of snow that blanketed the neighborhood. The brown brick wasn’t exactly dazzling, and whatever hard work the contractor’s wife had done on landscaping the tiny yard was buried in snowdrifts.
But something caught my eye that gave me a good feeling about the place. There was an old-fashioned lamppost at the curb, wearing a little mound of snow like a winter cap. It seemed to whisper “Narnia!” I could almost picture Mr. Tumnus standing in the snow.
The moment we walked through the front door, a man on a ladder in the living room, gestured with his brush to the patch of wall he’d just painted.
“Do you like this color?” he asked. “If not, tell me now.”
Um, can we look at the house first? I thought. His presumption was a bit odd, but also a little exciting. Was the painter prophetic? Was this our house?!
Long story short, yes, it was.
Compared with what we had been living in, it seemed as small as a wardrobe, but I loved the idea of the simplicity and convenience. The fact that they weren’t finished with the remodeling meant we got to choose the countertops and the kitchen hardware. And when they were about to carpet the upstairs, we were just in time to say we wanted to keep the hardwood floors.
This house was less than a mile from Joanna’s, so she was ecstatic. I texted Ben and Kelly to tell them we’d found our house.
“Send a picture!” came the immediate reply from Ben. I hesitantly took a picture of our little brown brick house in the snow, being sure to show the Narnia lamppost in the foreground, and texted it to Ben.
For the next day and a half, I didn’t hear back.
The night before we returned to Michigan, I found myself wide awake around 3:00 A.M., my mind racing.
Why haven’t I heard from Ben? Was he unimpressed? Have we made a terrible mistake?! Sure, this isn’t our big, beautiful house on the lake, but it isn’t that bad … is it??
And the worst thought of all:
Have we missed God’s will???
I said a prayer and tried to put the matter in the Lord’s hands.
The next morning, I was reading my Bible in the car. I was in the book of Haggai, the minor prophet who lived at the time when the Jews were returning to Jerusalem from years of exile in Babylon. They had been rebuilding their own houses, but Haggai had persuaded them to get their priorities straight and set about rebuilding God’s house – the Temple.
Ezra 3 describes the celebration when the foundation was laid for the new Temple. The people gave a shout of praise … well, most of the people. The older men, who remembered the past glory of Solomon’s Temple, wept aloud, because this was not Solomon’s Temple! I think it was for these discouraged people that the LORD spoke through Haggai:
“Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? (Haggai 2:3)
The LORD went on, speaking to individuals by name and encouraging them, promising that His Spirit remained and that He would fill the new “house” with His glory. I didn’t see my name there, but it still felt personal to me. As I got to verse 9, I got a chill.
“The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,” says the Lord Almighty. (Haggai 2:9a)
It might seem like a strange hope to take hold of – God’s glory in that humble house?
But isn’t that the way He does things – like saving ancient Egypt and the rest of the world from starvation through a Hebrew slave? Defeating a giant through an unimpressive shepherd boy?
And coming to earth in human form, being born in an obscure stable?
As I pondered the fact that God can do whatever He wants with whatever/whomever He wants to use, I had a feeling the adventures weren’t over just yet…
Prayer: Lord, help us to see Your purpose in unlikely people and places – even in ourselves, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
P.S. Wherever you are – temple, mansion, or in your prayer closet, know that if you have placed your faith in Jesus, He lives in you – you are the Temple. Enjoy His presence, “seek divine perspective,” and see what He’ll do with your life.