Then they will rebuild cities that have been in ruins for many generations.
~Isaiah 61:4 CEV~
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I’ve been and how it is that I got to where I am now. A scene from one of my favorite movies, Eat, Pray, Love, reminded me that it was in those times of devastation that I began becoming the person I’m destined to be. In the movie, Julia Roberts’ character, Elizabeth Gilbert, is sitting in Italy looking at the remains of the Augusteum and she says something about how ruin is a necessary part of our growth. She’s marveling at how the place has withstood so much chaos and destruction, yet remains standing. In this scene she is processing her feelings for her might-as-well-be ex-boyfriend. I believe she is trying to decide just how much damage has been done as she finally comes to the conclusion that the relationship has run its course.
We do this in life. Ponder the damage. Consider the negative impact. Decide whether to settle or break free. For some it takes longer than others, but eventually anyone who feels that their life has become stagnant comes to a point where the need to be more overwhelms them overtakes the comfort of familiar mediocrity. God did not create His people to settle for less. He did not intend for His people to shrink back into obscurity. On the contrary, He made us to reflect His awesome power. He equipped us with all that we need to not only weather the storms of life, but to emerge from them even stronger than we were when we were confronted by them. If our inclination is to move through life seeking shelter from every storm, but never learning to build that safe place using the tools that He has given us then we miss the point.
God is our shelter. He is, of course, our strong tower. But somewhere along the way, He hopes that we will gain enough strength and momentum from the knowledge that we can always call on Him that we are secure enough in all that He has shown us to lead others to that shelter as well. It’s not like we are to run for the nearest safe haven each and every time we hear a rumble of thunder, screaming, “Every man for himself!” But to be honest, that’s what many of us do.
As I did some walking through my own ruins, I realized that no matter how much I’ve been hurt over the years the fact is that I am still standing. In fact, I’m standing much taller (in spite of my short stature) than I was in the past. I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’ve moved past destructive tendencies; my own and those of others. I can say now that I am deserving of God’s love, His mercy and His grace because I’ve started listening to what He’s been trying to tell me all my life. I am His child and He loves me without end. And because He loves me, He stands back and watches me figure things out when it’s time for me to learn. He steps forward and comforts me when I’ve been broken. As the song says, He walks with me and He talks with me. And He tells me I am His own.
So, like Nehemiah was determined to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, I am determined to rebuild the walls around me that have sustained damage in these many storms. And I know that just like in Nehemiah 4:17, my God will give me the strength to stand with one hand on the sword of the Spirit and the other one putting the stones back in place. He will lead me, He will provide for me, He will protect me and when I need Him to, He will heal me. And these walls, though weathered by many storms, will be an object of beauty that will reflect His glory long after I’m gone.
To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
~Isaiah 61:3 NKJV~