Have you ever heard of Bible Roulette? Sort of an old joke in there, but it’s a way to listen to God randomly (a less-preferred way I should say). Open your Bible at any point in the book of books and read the first thing you see. Wala! God’s word for you for the moment!
It is not necessarily the best way to dig deep with God, but I have often done it when I am not certain what to read. I have even asked God for his sense of humor!
More often than not, I find that the passage I land upon speaks directly to that very moment. Sometimes, though, you get Numbers 26 and the second Hebrew census! (It’s just a list of names), hence God’s humor!
Today, I did not know where to open my Bible, so I played the game. The Bible I was reading is my first study Bible and is 34-years old, marked, well-used, well-loved. It revealed itself today in Haggai 2 under a heading “The Promised Glory of the New House.” Haggai is called to speak to the Israelites about rebuilding the Temple.
Haggai speaks to the king Zeb (my nickname), Joshua the High Priest and the people who have come out of exile in Egypt if they remember the former glory of Solomon’s Temple – a wonder of the world it is said. Few did. They were in exile as slaves a long, long time. They had few resources, were beaten down. God knew the people were feeling overwhelmed by the idea, let alone the task. I also surmise that as former captives, they probably had a collective scarcity mentality. And God says to them:
‘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? 4 But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak (Jehozadak), the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ (NIV, 2011)
I immediately thought of our current pandemic. See, last night I was awake until 3. Part of the reason was I was news surfing on my iPad and with each “report,” I found myself either getting angry or feeling doom. Between the finger pointing that has begun and the fear-mongers, I could not calm my mind. God reminded me that I had a good reason for not having a steady diet of news. My focus goes to places that only hurt me and, more importantly, take my thoughts from the One whose “Spirit remains among” us.
And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ (NIV, 2011)
Last night did not feel so much like worry as it did creeping dread. Last week, my clinical supervisor asked what the difference between expectation and hope is. I said that expectations are things we believe should happen, and when they do not, we feel burned. Hope is an anticipated outcome. And worry is similar - Worry for me is waiting for, expecting, a bad outcome, while dread is the feeling that my hoped-for outcome is doomed. Sort of the anti-hope. Dread also seems to shut out the light that said bad outcome is never ending.
So, my Bible roulette was used by God today to reassure me that He is with us and has our back, no matter what lies ahead. It may well turn into an outcome that is unpleasant at best, ugly at worst, but that still leaves me room for hope because with God present, light will always shine so we can see the end of the tunnel.
We may be in for the next Great Depression, but our elders survived. We may not be as prepared as they were, as we are not as self-reliant of a culture as they, but adversity is one of the motivators of invention and creativity. We have already seen it in the ways families are adapting to staying at home.
A few verses later in Haggai, God promises the people something:
“‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place, I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
I am counting on that promise for my own “house” and praying it be so for this house we call our country and the bigger house we call our world.