Word for the Way: Stop

stop-sign

“The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately” – Mark 11:3

Haggai is one of those curious prophets that I enjoy teaching about. He’s one of that blob of 12 prophets. Kids at my church do a great job memorizing the books of the Bible, until they get to the 12 minor prophets. Thats when things begin to break down. They’ll be going along well, “Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Ed, Ringo…” Yeah, sometimes they make a few up, but then again, wouldn’t the book of Ringo be awesome!

What I find curiously intriguing about the book of Haggai isn’t anything that Haggai prophesied. What I love are the narrator’s comments. Haggai, more than any other book in the Bible takes great pains to provide a date for each of Haggai’s four prophecies. When you do the math Haggai’s prophetic ministry was a grand total of four months. For a mere four months of Haggai’s life we hear about him in the Bible. We know nothing of his birth nor of his death. We don’t know what he did two days before the word of the Lord came to him nor do we know what he did a week after his last prophetic utterance…though I guess if he were like any good American celebrity he’d go to Disneyworld, but that’s just speculation. What really has me intrigued by Haggai is that the Lord had a peculiarly special need of him for four months and that was it.

This flies in my face and in the face of those I live and serve with. We value fortitude. I’m in it to the end; don’t quit; never give up! We value those who have served for a looong time. Those who served for four months only, well, we’d wonder what that person wanted from us and, clearly, they didn’t get it so off they went. Put in a good Biblical tone we’d say that person has no roots. No, we like our folks long serving and long suffering thank you very much.
Problem is that this simply doesn’t fit with the Biblical narrative. Haggai served for four months; Jonah likely only a few weeks…or even days. Simon of Cyrene only served for maybe a few hours; the colt from Palm Sunday for maybe less than an hour. Of course this isn’t to even mention the Lord God Almighty who created the cosmos stopping after just six days. Of course he resumes work the next day returning to his wonderfully creative ways. But it does make you think, if God works for six days and then stops how would he fair in our eyes; would we see him as one with fortitude or with no root? Curious questions to ponder. Now to be clear, you are a person of great worth to the Lord; he gave his only son for you remember. And of course the Lord wants you to be a co worker in his vineyard. But perhaps your service as a co worker might change and shift from time to time. You might be in active service one day, and a part of the reserves the next. You might be a starter this week and on the bench the next. You might be a Martha for a time and then you might be a Mary…and that’s actually ok. It’s ok to serve the Lord actively and it’s ok to rest for a while too…shoot, it’s downright Biblical. We might do well to ponder today why we don’t afford this blessed privilege of resting from our weary labors to ourselves, or to others. Perhaps the watchword for today is just Stop.

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