November 30, 2020
Reading Ezra today and I love this book. It has been a long while since I read it and, like always, I am seeing new things in The Word. Reading Ezra 8:21-22 is uplifting and refreshing to me. The complete text is below in case you don’t have a Bible to grab. I felt a connection to Ezra because he was in a position of needing help and he didn’t ask for it. That is me in a nutshell. My world could be crumbling apart and I would turn down good, free help that was offered. Only in the last year or so have I changed that and began to accept help from friends (but only the best of my friends, who I feel safe with). I don’t know the psychology behind “why” I never accept help, but the reasons may sound familiar to you: I should be capable of doing this myself; I don’t want to owe anyone; I don’t want to be responsible for someone’s losses that come from helping me; I don’t want to seem needy or greedy; I may not be able to repay this favor, and so on. I was very refreshed to read that Ezra didn’t want to ask for help either! You know ... misery loves good company.
Then, I kept reading. It turns out that none of my reasons matched Ezra’s and that made me stop to think for a minute. Ezra was taking some Jews from Babylon back to Jerusalem to finish rebuilding the temple. King Artaxerxes was honoring King Darius’ offer of money, materials, and animals for sacrifice. This enormous group would make a hard journey across the river with entire families, small children, animals, vessels of gold, and food. You get the picture – they were not going to move very fast, and probably felt uneasy, leaving the protection of Assyria, to go walking to Jerusalem. They would be at the mercy of predators. Ezra knew they needed help with the journey but he didn’t want to ask the king for help, because he had earlier proclaimed his faith in his God to do “good to all that seek Him”. So, Ezra didn’t want the king to feel that they had lost their faith in God to get them safely back to Jerusalem. He didn’t ask for help because of only one reason – to glorify God. Not one of my reasons were founded on glorifying God. Instead, they all seem pretty self-involved now that I read over them.
I have heard it said that allowing a person to help me is actually a way of blessing that person. It allows them to give, and by that to spread God’s love. If I stop someone from giving then I am denying them a blessing and a chance to show love to a neighbor. Recently, I have had some outrageous car issues, and three friends stepped up with loaner vehicles for me. If it had not been for my dire need for a vehicle, I would have automatically declined. At this time, I was leading an AWANA group, my child provided snacks for all AWANA classes, I helped coach middle school basketball five days a week, one child had basketball lessons at another time of day five days a week, my kids had music lessons, and all that was on top of the regular errands (post office, groceries, bank, helping friends, etc.). I had weekly responsibilities and being without a car was not an option, so I took the help and hid my embarrassment. If you were paying attention, you just read my list of errands and you noticed that I said “helping friends”. Yep, I have a very double standard. I profess to be available at any time, to give any help to any one in need. I may drag kids with me, and have to come & go quick, but I will be there and most of all I will love being able to help. Why I don’t allow that process to work backwards...I don’t know but it is truly hard for me. Reading Ezra today, the Holy Spirit has said, “you need to pray about this and let Me fix it for you.” He didn’t even tell me to fix it myself – just pray and get out of His way.
My prayer for myself and for you is that we can turn down help ONLY when it glorifies God. Otherwise, maybe taking the help is what glorifies God. Starting today, that is how I will decide when I say, “No thanks!”
Ezra 8:21-22 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying ‘The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but His power and His wrath is against all them that forsake Him.’ “