By Kevin Howell
I read about an odd occurrence in the book of Ezra. The people of Israel had returned from exile in Babylon and were rebuilding the temple. This was a massive construction project that would take years. Just after they completed the foundation of the temple, they decided to take a break and celebrate.
Now laying the foundation is just the start of any building project. There’s still a long way to go. But scripture says that the people partied like it was 1999 (BC). They understood there was plenty of work left to do, but they were grateful to God for what they had accomplished so far. The project was a work in progress, but they were thankful for the progress.
I think that’s a concept we all need to embrace in our individual lives. Chances are you aren’t necessarily where you want to be in life yet. There are some goals not quite on the horizon, incomplete projects, and character flaws that remain. Not to mention disappointments and detours that have left you recalculating your life’s GPS (OK, I mentioned them). We easily get caught up in the daily grind as we push toward success and fulfillment that we can neglect to look back at the foundation we’ve established. Yes, the road ahead remains long, but the distance travelled isn’t anything to smirk at. It’s OK to pause, take a breath, and appreciate how far you’ve come. In fact, it’s vital.
We must pause to appreciate the process. We must pause to appreciate God. God is about the process. I’m starting to think that life is less about reaching a goal, ambition, or end than it is about the process you go through to get there. God is more concerned with our character than our accomplishments. Of course, He calls us to accomplish certain tasks, but I believe the purpose of those tasks is to shape our character. As believers, our redemption has already been secured. The road ahead is about being transformed into the likeness of Christ.
Understanding this perspective gives us peace. It causes us to stop judging ourselves and measuring ourselves by others and societal standards. It gives us a less rigid approach to life. It helps us enjoy our work because even when it seems like it’s leading to nowhere, we now know that something is being accomplished within us. We’re being transformed, every day. So even if we’re nowhere near where we want to be, we can pause to celebrate and appreciate the process. That’s what life’s about after all.