I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. (Psalm 119:15 NIV)
When people ask me for my street address, I cheerfully say, “I live at 103 Silver Lining Lane.” Almost immediately, a smile breaks out across their face and they reply, “Oh, that sounds like such a lovely place to live!”
It has been a lovely place to live for twenty-three years. 103 Silver Lining Lane (the residence) has really embodied its namesake. With a little more time on my hands (COVID-19), I have listened to God’s urging to take reading His holy word to the next level.
Not only have I been reading, but I’ve been spending more time lingering, meditating, and deliberately pausing to allow the words to sink in. Despite “to-do” lists throwing mental temper tantrums in an attempt to hijack my attention, God and I have had some great One-on-one conversations, that before recent events, had been sorely lacking.
When God’s people, the Israelites, were exiled to Babylon, there was a priest-turned-scribe by the name of Ezra who loved to study the law of the Lord. Like Ezra, I’ve kind of found myself in my own “Babylon,” and like Ezra, I’ve been drawn back to the well of God’s word.
Instead of complaining (which I’m apt to do), I’ve chosen to do more contemplating of God’s word.
The “silver lining” of this virus is that it has forced me to choose whether I’m going to binge on Netflix or binge on the Bible.
God has been blessing my season of “captivity.” I’m a writer, so I guess you could say I’m a scribe of sorts. Just as Ezra went from being a man of words, to a man of “The Word,” I have felt convicted to do the same. I want to hear God’s word louder and larger than the angry din of hateful words in our world. I want to share God’s word with a world that is hungry for hope.
Time spent in God's Word leaves us thirsting for more!
Ezra did not back down from pointing out disobedience and calling a sin, a sin. When the Israelites were finally released from Babylon to go home to Jerusalem, Ezra commissioned them to make God’s word their constant guide. Many of the Israelites had taken pagan wives who worshipped other gods. This is what Ezra said to them:
“Get up, for this matter is your responsibility, and we support you. Be strong and take action!...You have been unfaithful by marrying foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. Therefore, make a confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the surrounding peoples and your foreign wives.” (Ezra 10: 4, 10-11 CSB)
I guess you could say that Ezra was leading, what we’d call, a “good old-fashioned revival.”
It’s evident that the hand of God was upon Ezra and he led his people to repentance and restitution. We could stand to take a page from Ezra’s playbook.
It’s easy for me to make excuses. Perpetual distraction leads to being easy prey for the enemy. I need to examine the sin in my own life and then, subsequently, I see the sin in others’ lives. I am not called to be the judge – that job is reserved for the only righteous judge, but I can ask for God’s wisdom to speak the truth in love.
If you’ve been exiled in your own personal “Babylon,” and it has removed you from friends and family. And even if you’re lonely, frazzled, weary, and worn, is there a way you can you seek respite, refreshment, renewal, and revival for your needy soul?
What’s your silver lining?