I realise that there are many people that are taking strain at this time, many feel that all they have to work with in their lives is rubble and because of that they are not inspired to take stock of their lives and begin to re-build what has been torn down.
For many its not a case of everything falling down around them in one go but its rather a case of waking one morning to the realisation that life as they have known it is no longer there and in its place there is a pile of rubble that one has to plough through month after month, year after year.
I know this sounds very sombre yet it is the reality for many, Christians and non- Christians alike.
So whats the answer? I don't believe there is a 'one answer fits all' and that there are '3 easy steps to rebuilding' although I do believe that every rebuild should start with a plan regardless of how simple that plan is to begin with. Hope returns when we put one planned footstep in front of another rather than giving up and having 'life happen to you'.
I am at a place of 'taking stock' of my life and have drawn some inspiration from the life of Nehemiah and will share it with you in the hope that it at least gives you a starting point to rebuilding, a point where you say 'so far and no further!' It is time for change - the official slogan for the FIFA 2010 world cup was 'Ke Nako. Celebrate Africa's Humanity'... Ke Nako is Sotho for 'It's time', well I believe that it is time and time to get to that place again where we can take stock, have a plan and rebuild so that we can celebrate life again.
Inspiration from Nehemiah:
To save space I will just quote the verses and you can go look them up...
In the book of James ( 5:13) it says; 'Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.' (Italics mine).
In the book of Nehemiah we see that Nehemiah did exactly that after receiving news that the walls of Jerusalem were down and the gates were burnt, that all that remained to build with was rubble (Neh 1:3).
He sat down and wept and then it goes on to say 'For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.'
It's okay to mourn over what life used to be like but we cant stay there... are you in trouble? Pray. Nehemiah's first response was to approach God.
The next thing Nehemiah did was to approach the King for help and even in asking for help he continued to pray that what he would ask for was in line with God's plan for the task at hand (2:4-5).
He then went on to take stock of the situation so that he knew exactly what he was dealing with (2:13). It is at this point where many give up, in fact many never even get to this point because our human nature does not enjoy facing reality when that reality means difficult hard work ahead. I know that I have often procrastinated at this point hoping that everything will just come right by itself or that I would wake one morning to find that God has sorted everything out for me. This approach breeds denial and denial is an enemy to rebuilding.
Once Nehemiah had brought his situation before God, approached the king for leave to go to the ruins and face reality and had taken stock of the situation, the rebuilding began. I think that what he told those that were going to help build are words we need to hear today: "You see the trouble we are in: "Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace" (2:17).
Feelings of shame and disgrace are often a deterrent to facing reality and starting to rebuild. We feel ashamed for allowing our lives to get to the point of rubble even if much of it did not have to do with our own actions (eg. losing your employment, the economy, etc.). We need to counteract that with rebuilding in spite of what brought us to a place of rubble.
It's important to note that no rebuilding plan comes without difficulties or opposition. Not everyone will be happy for you when you tackle the process, Nehemiah faced opposition (4:10-15) many times and each time came up with a plan that would fill the gaps where the enemy had found access. He also continued to pray to God and encourage the people. He also continued to take stock of the situation as the rebuilding developed (4:14).
The enemy tried to put fear into the people at a point where the people were tired but Nehemiah's response was "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes" (4:14b).
He encouraged them to not forget that God was with them and that they were not just doing this for themselves but for their families and their homes... good reason to stand up and fight!
In chapter 5 we see that in the midst of the rebuilding Nehemiah encouraged generosity and help for the poor. When we are in the process of rebuilding, even when there still seems to be a lot of rubble still around us, we must not forget to be generous, not forget that there are others that are in a worse place than we are (even though it may not feel like that at the time).
The wall was rebuilt (Neh. 6:15) and their enemies became afraid and lost their self-confidence "because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God."
So let's draw inspiration from Nehemiah and begin rebuilding... no pile of rubble is too big for God, no life to far gone for his hope to penetrate.
Ke Nako - it is time!
PS: As I enter a rebuilding process, I would love to hear from you with regards to your rebuilding process so that we can share our experiences and encourage one another and pray for each other. Let's take the first step today and pray!