But if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as my dwelling for my Name. Nehemiah 1:9 NIV
Several images come to mind when I hear the following words: worn, peeling, cracked, stained, broken, tattered, torn, and chipped. Now, let me throw some other word pictures at you: desolate, exiled, burned, buried, ruined, and destroyed. Given a choice between the sentence which decribes a more desperate situation, the second sentence would get my vote every time. You may or may not be surprised to know that these words in the second sentence were used to describe the state of Jerusalem after the temple had been destroyed. The walls had been broken down, and its gates were burned. Not much was left that could be salvaged, but God had a plan.
God’s plan included a man named Nehemiah, who was a cup barer to the king. Nehemiah was in a perfect position to be God’s chosen deliverer, and a man who would bring glory back to Jerusalem. Jerusalem had been through one of the worst periods in its history. It was a city without a temple at its center; it lacked direction. Jerusalem’s people had been sent away, it had no protection and it was completely vulnerable and exposed. The city desperately needed someone to step in and take charge and rebuild the desolate walls of the city. In verse 9 of Nehemiah 1, Nehemiah prays that if God would allow him to rebuild the walls, he would reestablish Jerusalem and God would have a place to dwell because the walls would protect the temple. Nehemiah was a servant to the king and he went before the king to plead his case. Nehemiah turned a desperate situation into divine inspiration.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I am not physically or mentally capable of building up the walls of any city. Nor do I have the patience it would take to draw up all the plans and see something like this through from start to finish. But recently our church took on the task of adding on to our existing structure to build a brand new facility dedicated to the teaching of the children and youth of our church.
Our once vibrant and thriving church was beginning to see the pains of years of wear and tear on our current building. So we did exactly what Nehemiah did in the first chapter of Nehemiah, we prayed. We prayed that God would open the hearts and minds of our members so that we might be able to build on our existing property and create a building that might impact generations to come.
The more we prayed, the more we felt God calling us to remain at the same location in the heart of our city. It was important to stay and not leave. Many wanted us sell our current facility, and build on a new piece of property. God instead directed us to stay, and He provided the guidance, which was no easy task. There were meetings and building approvals and permits, and inspections, and contractors and equipment and the list goes on and on.
We just opened our new facility in December of 2017 and I have to say that it has been an amazing experience to see the current families get excited over what God is doing and will do in this new space. I know we’ve all heard the saying “If you build it they will come.” This was certainly true in Nehemiah’s time, as many families came back to rebuild their lives around the gates and walls of Jerusalem. We are hoping at our church that God will bless our obedience and bring new families into our doors and that we might see the impact of our message of Christ reach outside our church walls into the city center and beyond.
Are you struggling with whether to rebuild and start over in your life or stay the course? It’s never too late for a new beginning. Ask God to help you determine what His plans are for your life. Be willing to accept the challenge and be obedient to his calling.
Dig Deeper |
I would encourage you to read the entire book of Nehemiah from Chapter 1 – 13. It’s a fascinating story of how God had a plan and used ordinary people to do the extraordinary.
Action Item |
If you are searching for answers, pray and ask God to help you overcome your struggles and rebuild your character into His likeness. He can take a desperate situation and turn it into divine inspiration.
Please God help me discover what my direction is. Help me to rediscover Your will for my life. Help me to tear down the walls I have built up and rebuild based on Your biblical principles.
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