Read Ezekiel 43
Focus on verse 3
As I observe my own life and the events that have surrounded and shaped the person I have become and the circumstances I find myself in, it has become apparent that most of us live with a fair amount of uncertainty. While there are a few things we can be certain of, most of these are things we’d rather not think about too often – death, taxes, elections, bills and that sort of thing. I can’t help wondering how it is that the things we would rather avoid if possible seem to be the things that also the most consistent, while the things we find desirable – vacations, promotions at work, great sales at Best Buy, and such seem to be more elusive and sporadic. Perhaps the rarity of these events is what makes them special, while the certainty of the others causes us to view them with dread?
In today’s reading Ezekiel describes a vision of the Lord returning to the temple, and he makes a point of stating that it was similar to the vision of when the Lord departed from the temple.
And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. (v. 3)
This reminds me of the words of Job, where he has just heard report that he has lost everything, and his response is, “…the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away – blessed be the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21) Apparently, God has the right, as the sovereign creator of all things, to both give and to take as He sees fit. We see Him do this throughout the Old Testament. He gives the Promised Land to the people of Israel and makes a nation out of them, then, when they break the covenant they made with Him, He takes it away. Here, Ezekiel describes a vision in which God restores it back to them.
This concept of give and take, ebb and flow, come and go, is a recurring theme in the universe – so much so, that even those who do not accept the concept of God recognize it as the rhythm of the universe. It is woven into everything around us from the ebb and flow of the tide, to the changing of the seasons; with every breath we take, we inhale – we exhale.
There have been times in my life when God has taken something away and it has caused me to question if perhaps He is angry with me. Perhaps a more fitting response would be to be thankful that He gave it to me in the first place? After all, it is not like I had earned it, or deserved it in any way. Nothing I have is truly “mine”. It is all “on loan from God”. If He suddenly chooses to take back something that is His, how does this give me the right to be upset with Him? When I view it in this manner, it helps me to hold the things I treasure most, more loosely, as it reminds me that the most precious thing I have is my relationship with Him.
This not only takes some of the pressure off of me in terms of trying to protect all the stuff He has given me, but it gives me a sense of peace in knowing that no matter what happens, as long as I have Him, I have everything I need, and He has promised us that no one can take that away.