Mentally, I’m exhausted.
Although I may not have gotten my physical exercise for the day, I have certainly done at least a half-marathon’s worth of intellectual labor.
Last night, I was up until 3:30am working on an assignment. No, it’s not due for several more days, but I hate waiting in case some freak accident happens.
During the course of the day I was outside of my room for maybe 45 minutes. Maybe.
It’s not that I didn’t want to be out and about doing something. I just couldn’t. For those of you who don’t know, I am very much a one-track mind.
Today has been one of those days where I’m miles past the point of actually falling asleep and am now mulling over things I could do to try and make myself relax. My body is just too wired.
In the book of Ezra, we follow the Israelites as they return to Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity in a foreign land.
With the blessing of King Cyrus and the calling of the God of Israel, Scripture tells us that over 42,000 exiles returned under the leadership of Zerubbabel, not including servants and supplies.
This was no simple trip. In fact, I think it’s significant to know that this journey was about 900 traveling miles and would have taken at least four months to complete.
From the beginning we see a people who are driven to do the will of God.
What’s even more is that when they arrive, before they even set their hand to reconstructing the temple, the Bible reads that “there was a continual burnt offering, also for the new moons and for all the fixed festivals of the Lord that were consecrated, and from everyone who offered a freewill offering to the Lord.” (Ezra 3:5)
Their hearts were set not just on doing the work of their God but on doing the work for their God. Day and night, they presented the Lord with the best sacrifices they had to give and established a foundation of praise.
Ezra 6:22 says that following the completion of the temple years later that “they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had caused them to rejoice, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them to encourage them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”
Tonight, I want to remind you that stepping into the destiny God has set for you requires diligence and dedication. The Israelites left everything they had ever known to pursue God. They felt Him calling them back to Jerusalem, and they heeded His voice. For months and months, they traveled.
Immediately, when they arrived their first instinct told them to praise God, to offer up sacrifices of worship. They knew that without His blessing, their efforts were futile.
And bear in mind the temple was not erected in a matter of days. It took years of focus and consistency to complete the work of the temple.
They celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy (Ezra 6:16), and they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread with joy (Ezra 6:22).
As Pastor Malcolm said in a sermon several weeks ago, our attitude determines our altitude. Zechariah 4:10a asks “For who has despised the day of small things?”
I know from personal experience that I often have to keep my zeal in check. Sometimes my passion transforms into impatience. I know the Lord has called me to the ministry, but I also know that now is a time of preparation, of building and being built.
Like the Israelites, I encourage us to change our perspectives about the wait. They entered into His presence with joyous and thankful hearts. Only God could’ve given them the favor of the King of Assyria who not only allowed the Israelites to return to Jerusalem, but also encouraged them!
Do not despise the building process. It can be exhausting work, and many days may end with you laying in bed, staring up at the ceiling and asking God when your moment will come.
Trust that He hasn’t forgotten you and that He has plans to prosper you (Jeremiah 29:11). Rejoice in the work because He is worthy of our praise.