I was told to read Ezra 3 today, so I read it.
And then I said to myself...????
Later, I read it again.
It's about rebuilding the altar and temple. Or, perhaps (today, for me), just rebuilding.
I have to appreciate the organization of the Israelites. First, they rebuilt the altar in order to worship. Next, they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. (I suppose because it was the 7th month and that is what the law said to do during the 7th month. I'd have to research to see if there is further significance to this.) Next, they started offering all of their sacrifices and began keeping the law. Finally, they began rebuilding the temple.
They didn't just start rebuilding the temple all willy-nilly. They didn't even start with rebuilding a structure to live in. They ORGANIZED and they PRIORITIZED. Their first priority was an altar to worship God.
From the first half of this chapter, I am forced to look at the current state of my life.
Today was not perfect. I was unsettled. And then annoyed.
Even though I was at the table (showed up early, in fact), I could not eat and was left starving for the remainder of the day.
In this night, it occurs to me my priorities are not organized. (This is not a new realization, in fact, it's a frequent realization. I just can't seem to do anything about it.)
Ezra writes how worship led to obedience and obedience ultimately led to them being unified and able to work together.
God has been talking to me for an entire year about obedience. Probably, because obedience isn't my thing. I'm getting better at it, but still...
When I read this chapter the first time, I was somewhat certain (or maybe just hopeful) it wasn't yet another message about me being obedient.
I was wrong.
Worship leads to obedience. Have I even considered the relationship of one to the other? Has it even occurred to me more worship might bring more obedience? And if I was doing both, not just one or the other, perhaps disunity would not be holding my food captive?
Is worship my first priority or do I just try and fit it in amongst everything else that must get done? (No need to answer that for me, I already know the answer.)
The second half:
11 With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD:
“He is good;
his love toward Israel endures forever.”
And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 12 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. 13 No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.
The picture my mind forms here is a bunch of people making a bunch of noise.
If you know me, you know I'm not really into a whole lot of noise and chaos. Nor, am I that much into a whole lot of public emotion. So once again, I was all ?????? (What am I supposed to get from this?)
And then it hit me.
Here are these people doing God's work. Some are singing, some are shouting, some are crying... Some are celebrating the change, some are sorrowful of the past.
Is doing God's work any different today?
Did I not get fed today, because I was caught up in the differing emotions (including my own) of everyone around me doing God's work?
How ridiculous is it to think God's work should be emotionless and that everyone should carry the same passions at the same times? That everyone will (at the same time) rejoice over change?
For me (a person who resists change and one who also thought "being unified" was the starting point in a particular situation I'm struggling with), I now have what I was supposed to get from this. As E would say, it's (this second half) almost too big to grasp (and certainly too big to put into the right words now), but I understand it's application for me in this moment.
With everything I do comes some point when I make a mistake.
Sometimes, I can add a spice or pick up a dropped stitch to make it "good enough".
Sometimes, I just decide to throw the whole thing out and start over.
While "good enough" is nearly always easier and far less painful, there are times it will starve you to death if you let it.