Last week here at Mont Hebron Presbyterian we continued our journey through "The Story" by taking a look at Daniel in exile in Baylon. The sermon can be found here. This week, in chapter 19, the exile is over and the Hebrew people return home.
I'm fairly sure that I am not the only person who has a list of unfinished projects. A few years back I purchased a whole collection (at a very discounted price) of Karl Barth's “Church Dogmatic's” - a classic collection of his theological musings. My intention was to read all 14 volumes, blogging as I traveled through them. I started off pretty well, but other things have come along, and that journey is temporarily on hold.
At home we have albums full of pre-digital age photographs. A few years ago I began scanning them into the computer so as to have digital copies. After the first few albums I realized that this was going to be a more time consuming process than I first imagined. I have yet to get back to it!
Then there was the idea of creating some kind of index of the many books that I have acquired during my ministry. Some have been gifts. Some have been passed on to me by retiring pastors. Some (like the “Dogmatic's”) I have actually purchased myself. Whilst it would be useful to keep track of them, I have never quite got around to that project.
The fact that none of these are finished projects, is of no great earth shattering importance. I may well return to them at some point in the future. And I am guessing that I am not the only one who does not finish everything they start! But to be honest, some things aren’t worth finishing.
We should never think that we can put God in our collection of unfinished projects. God isn’t a “project.” God is not going to sit on a shelf contentedly waiting for us to give the things of God's Kingdom our attention, once the kids are grown or the retirement is funded, or other tasks are completed.
The Israelites learned that lesson the hard way. They returned from Babylonian captivity to rebuild the temple. They started strong, but in time turned their attention to other endeavors. What was important to God became unimportant to them.
Sixteen years passed without any work being done on the temple. So God allowed drought and downturns and difficulties to come upon them. And God gave them some simple advice. “Give careful thought to your ways” (Haggai 1:5, 7).
At the end of the day, each of us is responsible for our own schedule. There is really no such thing as partial obedience. If God is our priority … then we will make sure we find the time for the things of God's Kingdom. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God . . .” (Matthew 6:33).
There are some things worth finishing. Eventually the Hebrew people got back to the task of faithfulness. The temple was rebuilt. The walls of the city became strong. They were in a better place!
Whenever we seek to live in a way that gives God's agenda priority we also can find ourselves in a place of blessing. There are some projects that can wait. But there are others that can't. “Faithfulness to God” comes under that latter category. Faithfulness is always an ongoing project!
For a musical reflection, an acoustic version of Karen Lafferty's well known Christian song; “Seek Ye First”, performed by Eden Espinosa.
Rev Adrian J. Pratt B.D.