Monday, August 2, 2010

Ezra 4-6: Hooray for the Business Office (and look what God has planned when everything looks really bad)

From Garden to City reading:  Ezra 4-6

So God opens up the door for his people to return to Jerusalem to build the temple, and the people there try to close it.  They strategically send letters to the king in Persia (Darius instead of Cyrus--not sure why) and the king in Persia shuts them down.

Most of us--or maybe just me--would be totally confused.  Anxious.  Maybe even angry.
Our prayers might sound something like this:

God, what's going on?
We were so happy in Persia.  We had jobs, homes . . . It wasn't that bad.
And yet we wanted to serve you.  
So when this opportunity came to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, we jumped on it.  We even thought it was you sending us.  But now?  
It would have been better to stay in Persia.  It would have been better to give up on the dream to rebuild the temple, to reinhabit the land God gave us.  Clearly this was an impossible dream.  

Whining isn't terribly effective.  And God's people wrote a very nice letter to the King of Persia, very respectful, citing the proclamation by Cyrus, referencing the entire history.  It's very good to keep records of what has happened in the past.  And then Darius looked in the royal file cabinet, found the proclamation, amended his own letter, and wrote a check to pay the temple workers.  (Hooray for the business office, for business correspondence, and tidy file cabinets!)

So--essentially God allowed the inconvenient work stoppage to bless the people of Israel.

Right now I'm thinking of several applications to this view of the story, how things could have been so different if God's people had gotten mad and taken matters into their own hands.

And right now I'm wondering what God's doing in my own life.
And I suspect I'm not alone, that God sends us out to rebuild temples and pursue dreams and serve him, and then when things don't quite go according to plan, we wonder what we were thinking when we set out on the journey to follow his lead.  Did we really hear from him?  What's going on?

Trust in God.
Trust in God's love.
Trust in God's plans.

When God says to move.


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