What do you do when you try and start to rebuild something in your life and all you face are obstacles, challenges, and discouraging people?
Welcome, dear friends, family, and followers to my new (and hopefully improved!) website: AT THE CROSSROADS!
How very fitting and appropriate that the day of my big launch falls on a #ThankfulThursday! God is so very good and faithful, and my heart is full of gratitude for how He has graciously provided me with the people, resources, strength, and wisdom to rebuild.
If you have read my blog before, you know that God often uses people and stories from the Bible to teach me His truth and encourage me on my faith journey. When I was seriously wrestling with the idea of overhauling my website and parts of my ministry, God brought me to Nehemiah and the story of rebuilding the wall.
Before I show you around the new place and introduce you to different things that will be happening here AT THE CROSSROADS, I feel I must start with sharing with you this story of Nehemiah and what God taught me about what to expect when He calls you to rebuild something in your life.
In his project to rebuild the wall around the city of Jerusalem, Nehemiah was faced with a number of obstacles, challenges, and discouraging people. As I reread the story, I wondered how he had the determination to continue because the opposition was so great on many levels. But Nehemiah did not quit; instead, he prayed and planned. He then set a schedule and sought support. He sacrificed and was successful because he saw the obstacles and opposition as hurdles to overcome in order to complete God’s work.
Here is a little background on Nehemiah if he is new to you:
Nehemiah was a godly Jew who lived during the 5th century B.C. in Susa, the capital of the Persian empire. He was the cupbearer to the Persian king, Artaxerxes I. Basically this meant he was the king’s righthand man because in the ancient world this was a very important and prestigious position. Nehemiah’s responsibilities included making sure that the king’s drink was not poisoned. After all, one of the easiest ways for an assassin to remove a monarch was through poisoning his drink! Though Nehemiah was considered one of the king’s most trusted and loyal advisors, he was concerned about the problems and struggles of his own people who were living back in the homeland.
Nehemiah’s concern centered on the city of Jerusalem whose walls were in ruins. The walls had been destroyed by the Babylonians almost a century and a half before, when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and took the Jews into captivity. The Jewish people who had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon following the seventy year exile had completed the rebuilding of their Temple, but the walls of the Holy City remained as piles of rubble.
Let’s read a little part of the story before we break it down to lessons that apply to us as we may also be in the process of rebuilding.
Nehemiah 4: 6-14 (The Message):
“We kept at it, repairing and rebuilding the wall. The whole wall was soon joined together and halfway to its intended height because the people had a heart for the work.
When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repairs of the walls of Jerusalem were going so well—that the breaks in the wall were being fixed—they were absolutely furious. They put their heads together and decided to fight against Jerusalem and create as much trouble as they could. We countered with prayer to our God and set a round-the-clock guard against them.
But soon word was going around in Judah,
The builders are pooped,
the rubbish piles up;
We’re in over our heads,
we can’t build this wall.
And all this time our enemies were saying, “They won’t know what hit them. Before they know it we’ll be at their throats, killing them right and left. That will put a stop to the work!” The Jews who were their neighbors kept reporting, “They have us surrounded; they’re going to attack!” If we heard it once, we heard it ten times.
So I stationed armed guards at the most vulnerable places of the wall and assigned people by families with their swords, lances, and bows. After looking things over I stood up and spoke to the nobles, officials, and everyone else: “Don’t be afraid of them. Put your minds on the Master, great and awesome, and then fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”
You do not know how inspiring this passage was to me during my rebuilding process…and I had none of the real dangers (like getting killed!) that Nehemiah and the Jewish people had to face.
What about you today? Are you in the process of rebuilding, restoring, or remaking something in your life?
Maybe it is a new venture, job, or even career.
Maybe you are trying to rebuild a relationship with someone.
Maybe you need to rebuild your confidence and trust after a devastating loss or failure.
Maybe your physical body needs some restoration after a stressful time.
Maybe your future needs to be rebuilt after you have faced and dealt with the pain of your past.
Whatever it may be, I know God has taught me some life changing truths throughout out my rebuilding project that I hope will help me as I encounter other areas in my life that may need to be mended, improved, or restored. I strongly encourage you to reread the whole story found in the book of Nehemiah, Chapters 1-6 (it’s a great read!) because I am sure God will speak to you through it as well.
I tried to categorized what I learned about what to expect when rebuilding into 4 key areas. We will discuss the first two today…and conclude with the final two next Thursday (so yes, you need to come back!).
- PRAYER AND PREPARATION
- SCHEDULE AND SUPPORT
- OPPOSITION AND OBSTACLES
- SACRIFICE AND SUCCESS
1) PRAYER & PREPARATION
We will not begin to rebuild the walls of our lives until God brings us to a place of seeing things as they are. Take time to really digest this. For someone like me, who tends to be an optimist, this is a lot harder than it seems. When we honestly ask God to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to the broken, unfinished, damaged, cracked, and crumbled areas of our lives it can hurt. But I do know this, we will never rebuild anything unless we allow God to show us things as they really are.
That is why prayer is the first crucial step. Have you ever taken a good look at the broken places in your own life? Have you ever stopped long enough to assess what God wants for you compared to where you are in you life? If we are in daily communication with God through prayer and reading His word, He will show us those places just like he did with Nehemiah.
When Nehemiah hears the report about what is happening in Jerusalem and the truth of what is really going on, he weeps and prays for days, seeking God’s face.
“When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. Then I said, ‘O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned!'” ~Nehemiah 1:4-6 (NLT)
He then proceeds cautiously. His preparations include returning to Jerusalem to survey the ruins. Instead of announcing his plan to rebuild the walls with excitement and fanfare, he rides about the city at night assessing the facts for himself without arousing the suspicion of his enemies. Then he prays again, making sure to include God in his planning process:
“‘O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.’” ~Nehemiah 1:11 (NLT)
The rebuilding process begins on our knees, seeking God’s wisdom and guidance and asking Him to open our eyes. This may be uncomfortable and painful, but we cannot begin to plan unless we know where to start. Next, our plans should begin quietly and slowly, even if we are excited to get going on the project. If we do not have God as the architect of our rebuilding program, our plans are sure to fail.
2) SCHEDULE & SUPPORT
After this time of prayer and preparation (which may last longer than we want), we need to begin to formulate a plan with objective and measurable goals. And we need to enlist a team of committed and competent people to help us achieve these goals. Nehemiah was devastated when he heard the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and burned. He wept and mourned for Jerusalem, but he did not stay in this place of sorrow long. He knew something had to be done and got right to work to make it happen.
The Bible tells us that he first got permission from Araxerxes to rebuild the walls of the devastated city. Then he began networking and scheduling in earnest. He rallied people from all walks of life and enlisted them to join his team in accomplishing something great. The Bible tells us he gathered together goldsmiths, perfume makers, rulers, priests, merchants; he got entire families who were personally invested and enthusiastic. Because he took the time to schedule the rebuilding and to include the necessary support system, the wall was completely restored in just 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15)!
When we have the desire to rebuild something in our lives, we need to approach it like Nehemiah did. At first we may be sad, frustrated, confused, and unable to move or even start the process, but if we give into these emotions for too long they will render us helpless and ineffective. We need to get moving by making a plan and seeking the help of others who can support and encourage us.
At this stage in the process it is also time to carefully consider the cost (emotional, spiritual, relational, physical, and financial) before committing to the project. Jesus uses a similar analogy when he talks about the cost of following Him:
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’” ~ Luke 14:28-30 (NLT)
This is so important because there will be opposition and obstacles when you decide to rebuild…and that is when it gets really difficult!
So, I ask you to prayerfully prepare on this #ThankfulThursday and allow God to show you if there is some sort of rebuilding project you need to consider in your own life. Next, take the next week to begin planning and seeking counsel from wise and godly people who can encourage and help you throughout the process.
AT THE CROSSROADS will return on #MindfulMonday with some news about OASIS and then we will discuss the next two areas on what to expect when we rebuild next Thursday.
Stay awhile and look around at the finished project… it is still a work in progress, so I welcome your input and feedback!
Also, if you have not signed up to be a subscriber, please do so today and receive your free eBook, “The Power of Connection.” It is my thank you gift to you for joining me on the journey!
Thanks for being a part of the big launch today! You make meeting here AT THE CROSSROADS worth it!