Is there a place in my life where I need Jesus' healing hands to mend the burned gates and broken walls of my life?
…rusts into beauty, too.
I know full well that this is so:
I had a heartbreak long ago."
Mary Carolyn Davies
Youth Riding (1919)
Several days ago, at 8:30 A.M., the phone rang - it was my neighbor. He lives across the ravine from us and both our homes border the national forest. I say this because living this close to "Mother Nature" gives us many opportunities to witness "up close and personal" a variety of our animal friends.
While I try to remind myself these outdoor living wonders occupied the land and called it "home" before we did, on this particular morning my neighbor's telephone alert brought unwelcome news. "Have you been downstairs today," he queried? Then he continued, "There are 16 javelina on your back patio. It looks like someone left the gate open and there are five babies, two teens, and nine adults rooting in your flower pots and tearing up the rock wall behind your house."
My brave husband quickly scared the plundering beasts and they hastily retreated down into the valley to the safety of brush and trees. Needles to say, we were left with a mess. A patio strewn with the debris these wild creatures created and rock walls in disarray, stones scattered down the hill behind our house. And all because someone left the gate open.
As I reflect on where we are this week in our devotional walk, I can't help but compare the destruction left behind by nature's critters to the scene that Nehemiah found when, with the blessing of the King, he arrived in Jerusalem.
The beautiful wooden gates of the city, which for so long stood as protection from unwanted outside forces, were burned to the ground leaving the city vulnerable to unwanted enemies. The foundation of the wall, built of large stones, had also been subjected to fire and destruction. Some large blocks were tossed about, broken down by neglect and war.
The city was in such a defenseless position that, for his own safety, Nehemiah reports that:
"And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem…And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down and the gates thereof were consumed with fire."
Nehemiah 2: 12 -13, K.J.V.
This may be a little more information than we need from Nehemiah. Evidently, his secret nightly jaunt took him to the area where people got water and disposed of waste. But there was a good reason he wanted to see these two sites. They were both areas people had to visit on a daily basis. They were areas where, while performing necessary tasks of daily living, the people were left exposed to adversaries. And this is why it was so important the gates and walls were rebuilt. It was nearly impossible to live a normal life…do your normal activities…or enjoy your day while constantly in fear for your safety.
So Nehemiah gathered everyone together and gave them a Heavenly challenge. "Let's rebuild the wall." But here's where the story gets really exciting!
Nehemiah didn't come to the challenge empty-handed. He had three things to use in this task:
1. A letter of authority. The King gave Nehemiah a letter with his permission to enter the land and undertake the task of rebuilding. You know something, when you and I invite the King to "Come" into our lives, we carry a letter of His authority over our lives. We are living under the King's dominion. We are under His rule. Doesn't that encourage you to know the King is in charge of your life?
2. Timber from the King's forest. In Nehemiah 2: 8, it tells us the King sent a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the King's forest, telling him to give Nehemiah timber to make the beams for the gates of the palace, and for the wall of the city, and for the house where Nehemiah would live.
Don't you just love this? The King supplied the timbers for Nehemiah's house! Those strong beams that served to provide the structure, the shape, and most importantly, the strength for the new building project. That's what the King said, "I will give you." Do you see where this story is going? The strength for our new transformed lives is coming not from us, but from our King! He will give us the timbers we so desperately need - something we cannot do for ourselves.
3. Stones from the broken down foundation. And this is my favorite part of the entire story. Nehemiah was to use the stones that were already there, even if they were tossed aside or burned, God could help them clean-up the old bricks, and use them all over again. Nothing was wasted. The foundation from the past could be used to build a better foundation for the future. This should be the greatest news you and I could ever hear. Nothing from our past has to destroy the future God has planned for us. I pray you will remind yourself of this every day. Burned stones - God can use them. Broken bricks - God can use them, if you and I will let Him. He'll take every single rock from the past and present and put them back in place to build a wall of protection around us.
Please remember, if you have Come to Jesus just as you are, you now live under the authority of the King. And He will give you timbers of strength to rebuild the gates of your life that have been left open to unwanted forces that have tried to defeat God's purpose for you. But that isn't all God will do. Our King will take what's left - those burned and tossed about stones, once meant to build a strong foundation, and He'll use our flawed past to build a fertile future in our lives.
"Jerusalem's walls, how can it be I see your stones arise? If this can be, then surely thus can God restore our lives."
Pastor Jack Hayford
Church of the Way
Rebuilding the Real You
"All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you … O lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior."
Psalm 38: 9, 21, 22, N.I.V.
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $10.00.
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