Posted by: Brad Stanford | September 5, 2009

Exile Is Over

The last couple of days, I found myself worrying. With all that there is to do with the house, all the church activities to be involved in, upcoming business trips, deadlines for the software, and concern for my reputation, I was starting to get a little depressed. In fact, when I recognized that I was getting worried, I added to the stress by kicking myself. “Come on!” I thought. “How much does God have to do before you believe in His words over you?”

One of my thoughts was the time my children needed from me. I’m content to build the treehouse and stuff like that next month, after all this work is done. But that also goes against what I believe about living in the here and now. And yet, people are counting on me to deliver. And in a child’s mind, next month might as be next year – especially in the midst of one of the earliest fall season I’ve ever seen in Texas! What’s the balance?

For a few days now, I’ve been using my morning prayer time to address this. In fact, yesterday morning, I started out by apologizing to God. I said, “I know this time is supposed to be about you more than me, but I am getting consumed by worry. I need you to break into this situation and talk sense to me.” I even went out in the evening, just to get centered again. I opened the Bible and it opened to one of those devotional pages. It was entitled, “Are You Handling Work Stress Well?” Arghh!

Last night, Brandynn and I stayed up till 1am trying to get the house in order. We actually accomplished a lot! My office is pretty much done, and the living room has been cleared of boxes, as has our bedroom. I fell into bed exhausted, but realized the need to ask God for help again. Brandynn and I prayed together (something we don’t do hardly enough), and as I was falling asleep, she prayed for God to give us a bigger picture, something more than just today or this week.

As a result of our late night, I slept in later than usual (I’ve been getting up at 6:30 lately – not exactly programmer hours!), and didn’t get out to the prayer corner until about 9 or 9:30 this morning. I had downloaded the Bible on my iPhone, but realized that I couldn’t just flop it open as I like to do. So I grabbed my NIV and headed out.

Oddly enough, it flopped open to the very end of Ezekiel. Now, I can tell you that there’s no part of Ezekiel I’m super-familiar with. And when I read the heading of the passage – “Boundaries of the Land”, my initial thought was, “Oh great. Old testament regulations.” I read the first couple of verses with my morning mind flickering like a fluorescent bulb, trying to wake up to the words. I wanted to just shut the book (temptation from the enemy, in hindsight), but the Spirit said, “keep reading,” so I did. After a few more verses, I looked in the prior chapters to see what was going on and to try and get some context. It was then that I was amazed.

Israel (including Ezekiel) was still in exile. On this particular day, Ezekiel had been carried away in a vision to a mountain overlooking the land that God was going to give to Israel when He brought them out of exile. He had instructed Ezekiel to write down all of the instructions and give them to Israel at the appropriate time. He told him about buildings, gates, farmland, and in the passage I was reading, the boundaries of the cities an territories. and here was Ezekiel not able to even rejoice in the fact that exile was about over, he had to write down all these numbers, and measurements, and instructions!

But the main point was exile is over.

What God was telling me in this passage was, “Yeah, yeah, problems today. Listen: When it’s time for you to rebuild this city, I want you to follow my instructions just like Ezekiel.” God completely skipped over today, this week, this month, and this year. He skipped to the end of this episode, and spoke to me from there. By telling me the end of the story, He was not only confirming that the present would be taken care of, but my future was established.

This is actually a normal way for God to speak to His people. He sees us as we will be, not as we currently are. Like a sculpter, He sees the final product within the raw material, and He continues to chisel away until we look just like He wants us to. While He chisels, He tells us about what He’s turning us into. “You are going to be so cool when I get done with you!” Not only did I receive peace for today, but I received a new piece of the puzzle about where I’m going and what I’m to be doing.

This is exactly what we are to be doing for other people:

  • If you have weathered financial storms, and you see someone struggling in one, you can speak to them about what it’s like, and what happens after the storm.
  • If someone is wanting to start a business and you’ve done that, you can share your experience and let them know what’s on the other side of the door.
  • If somebody is being called to step out in faith, but they’re not confident that there will be something to step out on, you can speak life into them and let them know what God is doing and why.

In the past, I’ve said it this way: it’s easier to open the door if you know what’s on the other side.

God may not be saying that today’s problems will be easily solved. In fact, these problems are required for the backstory that I will need later when my body catches up to the destiny He has outlined for me. But the revelation from the Author of how the chapter ends is more than enough to get me through them. As it is written, “They that wait upon the Lord Shall renew their strength.”

I am, indeed, renewed today. I still have to work through today’s problems, but I have strength to do it, because I know that exile is over. These problems pale in comparison to the joy that awaits on the other side of them! If you find yourself in exile, ask the Author what’s coming next. You might end up locating that Peace Of Mind that has been so elusive lately.


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