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The Long Haul

It is Father’s Day weekend so I was reflecting on the journey I have been on as a dad. Becoming a dad happened quickly. Being a dad has been a long distance journey. None of my sons have ever said to Pam and me, “Thanks for the day I was born. I remember every moment and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.” They simply don’t remember a thing about the one day that started it all for them. They do, however, remember a lot of the other days of the long haul. As important as the day of their birth is, my influence in their life has been built by the day to day interaction I have had with them. They days of playing in the yard, teaching them the skills of life, disciplining them when they got off course, getting them up for school, praying over them and with them, and encouraging them to finish what they started as they grew to be young men. Being a father is mostly about staying on the road for the long haul and diligently dealing with life as it comes up.
I saw the same principle today in Ezra 7. The “big” event in the book of Ezra was the building of the temple in Jerusalem. It was completed through the remarkable support of Kings Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes. (Ezra 6:14) Rightfully so, the Israelites “celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy.” (Ezra 6:16) This was a great moment in their lives and it deserved to be greeted with rejoicing. The completion of the temple was the short-term project that marked the beginning of the long haul. That is where Ezra comes in.
“After these things . . . Ezra came up from Babylon.” (Ezra 7:1-6) His job was to “appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates—all who know the laws of your God. And you are to teach any who do not know them.” (v. 25) He was commissioned to establish a lifestyle of learning and obedience in the land of Israel. He was to organize those who knew God’s law and instruct those who didn’t. Day after day, he was to train leaders and teach the principles of God’s word. This was the very reason the temple was built in the first place. Ezra was chosen for this task because he “had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” (v. 10) While he was in exile in Babylon, he had already proven that he was diligent and disciplined.
It was a good reminder for me. Life is a combination of short-term celebrations that set the stage for long-term commitments. There is great joy in the first phase but there is great influence in the distance. I simply want to do both well.

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