What comes next is dependent on what comes first

Mark Grace on What Comes Next: Leadership

It’s 539 BC. The great Babylonian Empire rules the known world; power unmatched, authority unchecked. Until Cyrus and the Persians crush, confuse, and kill the Babylonians.   

The result: A year later in 538 BC Cyrus decrees the people of God can return to their land. Few do, at first (Ezra 8:1).

In the weeks ahead we’ll begin leaving our own lockdown ‘exile’... What will we find?  

In 538 BC, those who do return find the familiar has become strange, and the new has become old. That which was large, small. The hopeful, hard. 

The rebuilding of a simpler and smaller temple leads to grief and joy, hope and loss, confusion and expectation (Ezra 3:12-13). 

It’s into this exact moment the prophet Zechariah speaks: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’ ”…For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. (Zech. 4.6-7,10)  

It’s plausible (at least in the short term) that our own ways of doing and being church may also be smaller and simpler. Pared back, more exposed, fragile even. Make no mistake this will lead to our own griefs and joys, clarity and confusion.  

It’s into this moment God speaks to us through Zechariah: “don’t despise this day of small things” 

Why? Because in this moment's weakness, in this temple's smallness, in the simplicity, the Lord of Hosts is powerfully at work through his Word, by his Spirit. 

We see the Lord of Hosts most spectacularly at work, by his Word, through his Spirit, in the weakness and wonder of the cross and empty tomb. 

What comes next is dependent on what comes first

Can we rest our hearts in the reality that God works in the weakness and wonder of our crucified king, the Lord Jesus? 

Can we rest our hearts in the reality that the way God works is in the weakness of “the word of the cross”? 

Can we rest our hearts in the reality God works in the weakness and foolishness of prayer and the leading of the Spirit? 

Can we rest our hearts in the reality God still work in the smaller, simpler, the fragile gatherings of his people? 

May our hearts and bodies rest in these triune realities. May what comes next in our lives and ministries flow from what comes first.  

Stay vulnerable, weak and trusting Jesus. 

Mark Grace
CCCNZ Ambassador
027 290 3600


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