What has your spiritual life been like this year? Have you grown? Are you closer to our Lord, spiritually as well as physically? Have you prayed more, more deeply, more often, more meaningfully? Have you read the scriptures? Studied the scriptures? Found truth in the scriptures.
If you're not moving forward, you're moving backward, scripture teaches. You can't be saved, and stay where you are. Just can't. You also can't be saved and then move right on into the mansion reserved for you on Heaven Boulevard. Like the original bird in a Bush said, "wouldn't be prudent."
In the prophet Haggai's writings, we get a bit of the plan for all of us laid out in the plan for the rebuilding of the Temple. A beginning and and end. The Lord tells the people of Israel that they get to "put into action the word I covenanted with you when you left Egypt." God says, "don't be timid. Don't hold back."
God tells his people in the second chapter of Haggai, "On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the Word of God came through the prophet Haggai: "Tell Governor Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and High Priest Joshua son of Jehozadak and all the people:
'Is there anyone here who saw the Temple the way it used to be, all glorious? And what do you see now? Not much, right?
"'So get to work, Zerubbabel!'—God is speaking "'Get to work, Joshua son of Jehozadak—high priest!' "'Get to work, all you people!'—God is speaking. 'This Temple is going to end up far better than it started out, a glorious beginning but an even more glorious finish: a place in which I will hand out wholeness and holiness.' Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies."
Pressure. Pressure. It was everywhere. Imagine, the God of the Angel Armies, old Jehovah himself, says this temple is going to be better than it was. BETTER. Not some little thing put together for a few days. BETTER. And it was fine before with gold, silver and such everywhere. The temple mount in the middle of Jerusalem was going to be rebuilt within the very walls of the city.
As we "put together" whatever passes for our lives, it is worth noting that we should be on a progressive road. The road to heaven isn't paved, isn't easy, isn't level, but it is a road that goes two ways. You pick. It can be a forward-leaning one in which we are saved by the blood of the lamb, begin to change, begin to do things from a self-less standard, begin to read His word, begin to pray to Him. Or, we can be saved by the blood of the lamb and watch the Holy Road pass us by as others look forward to being transformed and miracle of miracles, they are.
I'm of the latter category, I can say with all humility. I read and I pray and I, I, mostly move forward. There are fits and starts and stops, but mostly, I move forward. Do I go as fast or as far as I would like each day? Nope. For all my grand plans, I go as slowly as He desires me to. There are days I even back up a bit, days when I fail, days when I'm that old selfish, only-child Billy who thinks waaaayyyy too much about himself and of himself. Mary is clapping somewhere in the house right now.
I wish I could get rid of that guy right now. But after 12-plus years of attempted holiness, it's clear I can't. But it's a process. The temple wasn't built in a day. Nor will we be. But it's important to note that though it took time, the temple was indeed built. "A glorious beginning but an even more glorious finish" the prophet tells us.
God says it was a place where he handed out wholeness and holiness. I pray the next year that your temple's construction continues and that the road to wholeness and holiness becomes easier.