In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak and the rest of the people (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work. They appointed Levites twenty years old and older to supervise the building of the house of the Lord. Ezra 3:9
Have you ever been so keen to start a new project that you've plunged straight in without reading the instructions? I certainly have and it hasn't generally been the best way to achieve what I was hoping for. It happens. A bit of preparation and reflection wouldn't have gone amiss but at the time it seemed so important to get stuck in.
The Book of Ezra tells of the time when the people of Israel were allowed to go back to their homeland following their exile in Babylon. Rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem was a priority but we learn from Ezra 3 that the work only began in the second year after their return. They needed time to make plans and to gather resources. More importantly, their preparation also included a focus on their traditions of worship.
The beginning of the new academic year offers a huge raft of possibilities; new clubs and societies, new tutors and projects, new social venues and new friends, and they all demand attention instantly. It can be difficult to hold the examples of Zerubbabel and Jeshua in mind but we might remember that they didn't even begin the work of restoring the temple without first making preparations.
Before beginning a new venture reflect:
- What would I ultimately like to achieve through getting involved in these particular actions?
- What skills and resources do I need before embarking on these new projects?
- Who can I talk to before making a commitment?
- Where will I find support and guidance when I get going?
- How can I make space to bring this to God and to listen to his voice so that I can move forward in faith?
Keep the answers in mind in preparing for the beginning.
Written by Ann Barlow, SCM Friend.