Probably everyone who has had the joy (and challenge) of trying to raise a child has employed the use of a timeout as a means to help the child achieve some self-discipline. A timeout (when utilized properly) gives a kid a chance to self-correct. It’s an opportunity to disrupt some undesirable behavior and realign their will with parental expectations.
The experts tell us that a “good timeout” requires a great deal of consistency on the parents’ part. There can’t be any arguing over the matter or any kind of negotiation. It’s best to use a timer and only isolate the child for one minute per year of their age. And it’s always best to discipline our children when we are calm and focused on their development, not our irritation.
Those are all good thoughts, but this week I got to thinking about adults being in a
God ordained timeout. Timeouts came up in my thinking because I see one in the first chapter in Haggai. Right there in verses 5-11, the prophet outlined a major “timeout” that God had instituted for His people.
The Israelites had returned from exile and begun the work of rebuilding God’s temple. They desperately needed a place to meet with God, to follow His instructions and worship Him properly. But instead of focusing on that task, they got busy building their own homes. They ignored their first priority of serving Yahweh and instead got busy “feathering their own nests.”
And so, God put them on a timeout. He made sure their crops failed. He brought about a drought. He blew away their harvests. And He got their attention. But the good news is, they got the point. We read in verse 12, “the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord.” The timeout was successful. He had their attention. They changed their ways.
I am wondering this week if we might not be in a kind of timeout right now. Now, I am not asserting that I know for sure God has directly caused our pandemic or our racial tensions or our political upheavals or whatever. But I am wondering if He isn’t allowing us (just like He did the returning exiles) an opportunity to “consider our ways” (vs. 5).
And as we consider our ways, we too need to be clear about realigning our priorities to ensure that serving the Lord is ALWAYS first priority in our hearts. Before ourselves, before our own comfort, before we highlight our positions or our family, we must put God on His throne and worship Him accordingly.
And when we do put Him first, our actions, activities and choices will match that priority.
I am sure that none of us like timeouts. So, this week, let’s all consider our ways.