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Why is it so difficult to get our priorities straight? No matter how important or imminent the exam was I still had to tidy my room to a state of perfection before I would begin studying. No matter how crucial a deadline is at work I still find myself using up my time on emails and easily achieved tasks. Even as I sit down to write this reflection I’m hours behind as once again I have my priorities wrong for today!
I’ve always admired those who are very disciplined (you know, the opposite of me) and those who always find time for what matters, like praying before any endeavor or in the midst of extreme pressure and busyness, finding the time each day to spend time in God’s Word. Getting your priorities straight is one of life’s great secrets.
Our reading today tells of the first wave of exile returnees from Babylon to Jerusalem. They have settled in their towns and have given generously to the rebuilding of the temple (2:68-69). Brilliant – getting their priorities right.
I bet they couldn’t wait to get started. The temple was so important to them, to their identity and their connection to God. I could just see them getting stuck in, getting real busy, almost overworking with excitement. But no, they get their priorities straight. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel (3:2) they rebuilt the altar first. This could have been left to after the temple was built, but it’s a sign of a new spiritual beginning for these reassembled people.
They had been exiled due to their relentless idolatry amongst other things, but they have changed. Their priority now was to get right with God, follow God’s way (3:4), and what I really find compelling about this account is that all this was done against opposition (3:3).
And when they do get going and build the foundations of the temple they stop to celebrate. With shouting and tears they praise and sing “The Lord is good! His faithful love for Israel will last forever” (3:11).
Lord, help me to prioritize my life for you. Help me to stop in the busyness, pray in the midst of the pressure, and meditate in times of trouble. May my praise of your faithfulness never leave my lips. Amen.