For the next few days, I want to share with you a bit about the Israelites and their relationship with the Lord after they returned from exile in Babylon. I believe this story is especially important because of what it teaches us about priorities in the Kingdom of God, in particular as we emerge from wilderness seasons. After being away from their homeland for seventy years (that’s like the amount of time that’s passed since World War II to now), King Darius of the great Persian Median Empire invaded Babylon and set the Lord’s people free. It’s hard to imagine how shocked they were upon being told that they could go home, especially since their circumstances literally shifted overnight. Because they had fully settled in a foreign land — many of them even being born there — to suddenly have total liberty was a huge change. Yet in spite of having become comfortable in captivity, most seized their chance at freedom and embarked upon the return journey to their native land. Though there was a remnant of Jews who never left Israel, they were too small to maintain the city, so when the freed captives finally arrived, they beheld only a shadow of the glorious place that once had been their home. As they attempted to settle in, there were food problems, water problems, infrastructure problems, and governance problems, all of which made Jerusalem seem much more foreign than the place they left behind. In fact, the issues were so overwhelming that they didn’t know where to start.
My friend, while you might have to dwell in a foreign land for a time, every season of captivity ultimately comes to an end. When it does, the key is to embrace your freedom. Though it’s easy to settle in the wilderness, God will not leave you there indefinitely. Your Savior has good plans for your future, and while He uses periods of exile and isolation to strengthen, heal, and refine you, He will always bring you back home to His heart. You are made to fellowship with Him, and though there will be adjustments required as you let go of survival mode, He will be with you every step of the way. When you choose to get out of the boat of familiarity and move forward on the sea of uncertainty, the reward that awaits you will far outweigh the fear that precedes the leap of faith. Your Heavenly Father wants to do more than you can ask for or imagine through your future, so take heart, have courage, and trust Him to lead you to His very best!