Author: Megan Fera, Teaching Leader, Ezra Women's Conference
"Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites – everyone whose heart God had moved – prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings. Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god.” Ezra 1:5-7
When you were little, how did your parents call you home? I can still remember the sound of my mom’s voice across the yard when it was time to stop playing. When I was a teenager, my dad could bring me home just by setting a curfew. But when I entered my 20’s, their voices suddenly sounded muffled. New relationships, new ideas and new forms of sin made home seem like a foreign place. I got myself into some trouble then, and my dad’s call carried a form of pleading.
“Megan, what is going on?” he asked once, when I’d failed out of college and traveled across the country alone, “Honey, just come home.”
But I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to see what Megan could do and who Megan could be. I got a job as a secretary and moved to Switzerland. By then, my dad’s voice became more resigned: “You’ll be alright, honey. Just stick it out.”
That winter, walking beside quiet Lake Geneva and riding around in late-night cabs, I began to wonder about God. And God began to answer. Once, a stranger offered me a car ride and asked piercing questions about Jesus. A few nights later, a light fixture shattered over my head and sent me, trembling, for my high school Bible. Over the course of months, a new friend shared hours of grace-filled conversation about her own need of forgiveness. I began to see God’s hand in my life and believed what I read in His word. I went home to seek Him in earnest.
That’s the story of my return to God, and it’s the story of Ezra, too. Ezra is the story of a people determined to ignore their Father’s call, until He sends them away to a foreign place. But exile is good for them: after a time, they are ready to love Him again. God moves the hearts of His people, yes, but also their circumstances - overcoming every enemy, providing every necessity, and forgiving ever abundantly so they can worship Him through eternity. That is God’s vision for His people, then and now. Will you let Him move you? He will do whatever it takes to bring you home.
“The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. So we arrived in Jerusalem, where we rested…” Ezra 8:32.