Quick Summary: Cyrus King of Persia was "was stirred by the Lord" to call the exiled Israelites back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Not only did he call them back, but he ordered the people to given them anything they needed to help them accomplish this. Then everyone "whose spirit God had stirred" got up and went. When they got there it took two years to finish collecting the needed materials before they could begin to build. Once they finally got started, the other people who lived in the land tried everything they could to prevent them from building. This went on for years until there was a new king. The people wrote to this new king asking for his help to stop them from their work and he issued a decree forcing them to stop. The Israelites then had to wait until the next king was in place before being allowed to continue the rebuilding of the temple. (Italicized words are quoted from the ESV)
So God moved the heart of a unbelieving king to gather His people together. He then moved in the hearts of his people to uproot them from the place they were then living to go back to their homeland to begin rebuilding the temple that had been destroyed. They entered into a land that had been taken over by their enemies. These same people did whatever they could to hinder their work. Eventually they had to stop and wait years before they could continue.
Despite all obstacles, they pressed on.
They knew this is what God had called them to do. We know it too, because it's written right there in Scripture that their spirit was stirred by God to go and do this. Yet, they still had to spend time waiting. They still faced many obstacles.
The stopping and starting, the constant interference, was not enough to stop them. Why?
How often do we begin to question and doubt if what God called us to do is really what God called us to do, simply because things don't seem to be progressing like they should, or we are facing many obstacles?
I guess what screams to me off the pages of Ezra is when God calls us to do something, when He stirs our spirit to do His work, this does not mean it is all going to go smoothly. It does not mean there will not be obstacles. It does not mean there won't be times of stopping and waiting.
But what are we supposed to do in those times?
The Israelites pressed on. They stayed ready. When God called them back to their homeland out of exile, they packed up and left immediately. They were ready. When it took years to gather the materials, they continued to collect what they could, when they could. When they began their work and the people of the land tried to stop them, they continued to work. They pressed on. When they were ordered to stop working, they stayed ready and eventually went back to their work before being given permission. They pressed on.
I can't help but ask myself, "What obstacles have I allowed to turn me away from what God has called me?" "Have I allowed a time of waiting to turn into doubt?"
These obstacles seem like huge iron fortresses that make the work we have been called to do seem impossible. But on closer inspection we find they are simply made of foil (reflecting our past fears but easily crumpled by Truth).
God's will is always going to prevail. He may allow us to experience setbacks. This does not mean we were wrong about where He called us.
How committed am I to His calling? Am I willing to press on, even when the walls in front of me seem impossible? Am I staying ready in times of waiting, so that when He reopens the gateway, I can continue forward?
I pray I never cease to be amazed at how God speaks through His Word.