I love vacations. Small or big, there is something so fun about packing your things with the people you love and getting in the car (or plane, or bus, or train, whatevs.). Thirteen rest stops and food breaks later, we are resting and relaxing (or going and doing, depending on the trip).
One of our favorite vacations has been to Orlando, Florida. The first time we visited that city, we Disney’ed it up! Going from park to park with some great friends and our tiny children. Theme park trips are definitely the “going and doing” kind of trips. So fun.
Each day was a new adventure! A day at Magic Kingdom with Mickey and Donald and It’s a Small World! A day at Hollywood Studios with the giant Honey I Shrunk the Kids play-land! A day driving down to Clearwater Beach playing volleyball! A day at Epcot Center – ok, I don’t really remember what we did there, and I remember it wasn’t our favorite (I am pretty sure it was at this point Shawn had reached his limit with “the mouse” as he un-affectionately referred to Mickey and his open hand, taking more money every chance he got), but I can say with certainty it was equally exhausting! A day at Animal Kingdom with a safari ride and grownups taking turns riding Expedition Everest until the park closed!
It was so fun! And so tiring! (I feel like I need a nap just remembering it)
Then add on the 13 hour drive home.
When you see the “Welcome to West Virginia,” there is just something about it that brings comfort. Almost home.
While going away is so fun and wonderful, going back home is a feeling that settles deep down in your soul.
In the book of Ezra, the Jewish people had been away from their home for so many years – a lifetime for some of them. The Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken control of their land and sent them packing to Babylon under his control. Fast-forward a bunch of years, and a new king, Cyrus the Great of Persia, takes over Babylon and does things differently. He allows them to go back to Jerusalem. He wants them to return to their land and to rebuild their temple to their God.
Great news, right? Going home, such a relief. God let the people know if He wanted them to go there to be part of this rebuilding, and those people set off.
You can almost sense that peaceful feeling settling in their hearts as they saw the “Welcome to Jerusalem” sign. Finally home.
As that feeling settled in their hearts, and they settled in their homes, it was time to rebuild.
The first step was to build a simple altar to sacrifice offerings to God. That sounds pretty easy.
Sometimes the first step is the hardest to make.
They were a little afraid. There were people around them who weren’t on board with the plan to rebuild the temple, and would eventually make it known to them and stand in their way for many years. But for now, they had an altar to build.
Ezra 3:3 says this: “Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices.”
Despite their fear.
The fear was there and it was legitimate. But they kept going, despite their fear. And they didn’t do a partial job. They built that altar. They built it on a foundation – not something that they could take apart when it wasn’t in use so people might not notice. They sacrificed those offerings right on it to the Lord, just as they knew to do. And not just once, but both morning and evening sacrifices.
Despite their fear.
What a great example!
Do you have something God is asking you to do? Only you and He know what that might be, but don’t neglect it. Do you have conflicting feelings – excited for God to use you, but mixed in with a pinch of terrifying?
Do it anyway.
God doesn’t usually have us stay un-stretched and un-challenged and un-growing for long. He is constantly shaping us to be more like Him, and believe me, you will want this to happen. Despite your fear, do the thing.
Sometimes God asks us to do a big thing – begin a ministry, care for an orphan, move . And sometimes the thing is a seemingly small thing – make the phonecall, babysit the children, introduce yourself. Each one of these bigs and smalls is so important. God doesn’t pass out jobs for our amusement. They serve a purpose. And what an honor to be part of His plan!
Don’t let fear stop you from the big things, and don’t let the feelings of insignificance stop you from doing the small things.
Take a few minutes today and pray about the thing that might be bringing you fear. He will bring you courage. And if you haven’t heard Him assigning you any job to do lately, pray about that, letting Him know you are willing.
And if you want to share what God has put on your heart, I would love to pray for you as you find your courage!