Where does inspiration come from? Where does the motivation to use one’s gifts and passions to make a difference begin? Jane Goodall said, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” Are we the source of action or does that spark come from something else? I would like to propose God is the beginning of movements that bring change; history is the record of mankind’s response to the divine prompting.
An amazing example of man responding to the movement of God occurs in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia; the Lord stirred up the spirit of the king to allow the exiles to return to Jerusalem.
This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:2-4, emphasis added)
This king was pagan, not a follower of Yahweh, yet he was moved by God to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. What an amazing thought, for a non-believer to recognize God has appointed him to do the work of God.
The movements of God always begin with what is important to God; the reality of the temple communicated the truth that God desires to be among his people. The temple was the last thing to be destroyed when the nation fell into captivity. The temple is also the first place where God begins to set about the work of restoration. What is important to remember is this is a God-Movement! God was the one who made it happen – start to finish! Therefore God can and will use any tool to make his work – even a pagan king. This should make us pause and reflect, where is God moving around me? What is God moving in my heart to do?
Once you experience God’s prompting of your heart – you must respond!
“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.” (Ezra 1:5, emphasis added)
This passage reveals two important facts of the situation. First, not all the exiles were going to return to Jerusalem. Notice only specific people had their heart moved by God; only certain tribes of Jews accepted the call to go rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. The majority of the people did not want to return – but the Spirit of God stirred up the hearts of some and made them unsatisfied with the established situation in a foreign land. Secondly, the response of those who experienced the divine spark was to prepare to go and do the work God has moved their heart to do. This preparation included packing up not only their possessions but also gathering the temple articles and “silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:4) provided by those who chose to remain behind.
It is important to recognize the people’s first response was preparation. They did not rashly do something; they did not follow the Nike commercial’s advice to “Just do it”. The preparation allowed time for wise planning, and more importantly, time for God to provide for their task. It was the neighbors who provided the extra silver and gold and King Cyrus who gave back the temple articles, this could only happen if time to prepare was allowed to happen.
This shows a biblical pattern: when God moves your heart, you must respond with action, but do so wisely and promptly. Just as a flame on a match has limited life and the burning coal isolated from a bonfire will die out, so too God’s moving of your heart will fade away, choked by distractions of the world around us. Even if it is a small first step, time spent preparing, seeking God’s wisdom and God’s sovereignty, will open more opportunities unseen prior to your first response.
So how is God moving your heart? Think about the 2nd thoughts you give to ideas or opportunities present in your life. Could this be God’s divine spark, inspiring you to action? If you are struggling to identify how God has moved your heart, here are two characters that may give guidance to recognize God’s movement:
- Perhaps you are like Popeye: once he experienced an injustice that truly frustrated him said, “that’s all I can stands, I can’t stand no more!” From there, it’s cartoon history. Popeye eats his spinach and rescues the situation. Reflect upon the issues that truly bother your soul? What is such an injustice that you have to do something to help? This is God moving your heart with compassion and righteous anger. However, this is where preparation really matters. Do not rashly respond but do research to find organizations that are making a difference in these matters of injustice.
- Or maybe you are like Tigger who sings he was made to bounce. He cannot stop himself from bouncing, bouncing, bouncing – it’s what Tiggers do. What action were you made to do? What are you naturally drawn to do, regardless of its convenience or cost? What is something that you are good at that can help someone who is in need of what you can offer? This may be a little easier to begin as you are probably already doing something related to it; however think about how you could use this ability for God’s work in the world around you.
God is inviting us to join him in His plan of changing the world. When we respond to God’s moving of our heart with obedient action, we begin to live with the significance God designed for us (Eph. 2:10). So the next time God moves your heart to a situation of injustice or an opportunity to help someone, whether in your family, your workplace, your church, or the world around you, respond with a small step of preparation that will lead to action. For it is in the preparation that will reveal God’s provision to accomplish the task through you!