Wednesday September 8, 2021
Today is Wednesday, September 8 and this week we are exploring how restoration is God’s deepest desire for us.
As I enter a time of prayer, I pause and become still. I calm my thoughts and silence my mind. I breathe deeply and slowly, and center myself upon the presence of God.
Pause and Pray
Come Holy Spirit, I have come here today to hear a word from you, God. Speak to my heart and my mind in the name of Jesus Christ. Speak words of life. Amen.
Today, I rejoice with hope in the Lord’s promises and goodness with the ancient words of Psalm 126.
Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. Psalm 126:4-6
Pause and Pray
In the sixth century B.C. the Babylonian army conquered and destroyed Jerusalem and took nearly all the nation’s inhabitants into exile in Babylon. This exile lasted seventy long years, an entire generation of people did not know their homeland. Today’s passage from the Old Testament book of 2 Kings records the fall of Jerusalem, the Holy City’s destruction by the Babylonian army and the consequential forced exile of the people. They are mandated to leave behind many things they value and love. They are dragged from their ancestral home to dwell in a strange, foreign land 1600 miles away from everything they know. I reflect on the violence and destruction that is recorded.
Nebuzardean, the captain of the guard and an official of the Babylonian king, arrived in Jerusalem. He burned down the Temple of the Lord, the royal palace, and all the houses of Jerusalem. He destroyed all the important buildings in the city. Then he supervised the entire Babylonian army as they tore down the walls of Jerusalem on every side. Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, then took as exiles the rest of the people who remained in the city, the defectors who had declared their allegiance to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the population. So the people of Judah were sent into exile from their land. 2 Kings 25:8-11,21b (NLT)
The people who are taken into exile are ripped from their homeland overnight and their lives are turned upside down. Everything that was once familiar to them has vanished and they do not know when their lives will return to normal. Some theologians, including Pastor David, have compared the time of Covid to a time of exile.
How has Covid been a time of exile for me? It is a time of isolation and separation from the people and activities I love. It is a season of uncertainty where everything has been different from the familiar ways I once knew. It is a time when the normal rhythms of daily life are disrupted. It is an unusual season when I have even been separated from my church family and Sunday worship.
Ask: Lord God, show me how I have experienced exile in my life? How do I relate to the people of Judah who are forced into a new existence?
Pause and Pray
Gracious God, sometimes I feel like the things I held sacred in my life have been stolen from me. Torn down, damaged and destroyed. I grieve some things I am forced to leave behind and I long to return to some things I once knew. I read the words of 2 Kings again and seek your direct message for me today.
Ask: What image, word, or phrase stands out to me when I slowly read this passage?
Nebuzardean, the captain of the guard and an official of the Babylonian king, arrived in Jerusalem. He burned down the Temple of the Lord, the royal palace, and all the houses of Jerusalem. He destroyed all the important buildings in the city. Then he supervised the entire Babylonian army as they tore down the walls of Jerusalem on every side. Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, then took as exiles the rest of the people who remained in the city, the defectors who had declared their allegiance to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the population. So the people of Judah were sent into exile from their land. 2 Kings 25:8-11, 21b (NLT)
Similar to the fate of important buildings and sacred spaces in the Holy City that are destroyed and left behind, I have also left things behind. I have left behind important times of my life, special people, sacred rhythms, beautiful seasons, and places of joy. What did I once have that I cannot return to? What do I miss or grieve in my life that has now changed? What do I long to recover and am impatient to do so? What do these biblical images of destruction remind me of in my own life? How do I feel exiled and from what do I feel estranged? What is God trying to say to me through the experience of the exiled people from long ago?
Pause and Pray
Loving God, I want to go home. I long to be restored from places of spiritual and emotional exile. I grieve over things that have been broken or damaged in my life and I pray I will experience restoration. Renew and restore me in Your love. Amen.
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:1-3
As I leave this time of prayer and go throughout my day, I rejoice in the good things God has done for me and the restoration God has already brought into my life. I am filled with joy, seeking to do good things for others in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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