I cannot imagine having the weight of a nation on my shoulders or the task of restoring its glory by building a wall. Get your political mind out of the gutter! I’m obviously referring to Nehemiah and his task of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. As modern Americans, we can have a hard time relating to Nehemiah who, in order to save his kinsmen and himself from their shame and defenselessness, needed to rebuild the wall around their city. Our cities do not have walls, our shame is not connected to our land. (Again, I’m thinking about Nehemiah.) However, we can all relate to that feeling of helplessness, to the urgency of knowing something has to be done because, if it isn’t, we will have no other choice than to live in an exposed existence, open to our enemy because our “walls” are missing.
I remember my “wall-less” season like it was yesterday. I remember going to work and not having the ability to do anything other than find a room where I could just lay on the floor. I don’t have to work hard to transport myself back to that time, when I felt lucky to make it one day at time, when all I could think about was the loss of my walls. I also remember the day when I realized I had a choice to make. I could continue to find floors to lay on, or I could get up. I stumbled onto a passage in the book of Isaiah:
The Lord says, “Forget what happened before. Do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it? I will make a road in the desert. I will make rivers in the dry land.”
— Isaiah 43:18–19 (ICB)
“It is already happening. Don’t you see it? I will make a road in the desert. I will make rivers in the dry land.”
I read these verses over and over because I was in the desert, and I was in the dry land, and I desperately wanted to see what God was doing. But, like Nehemiah, I realized that the wall wasn’t going to rebuild itself, and if I wanted to be a part of what God was doing, I was going to have to get up and get to work. So I did. And it was hard. And I hated it, and I missed the past, and I struggled through it. But, brick by brick, I worked with God until I felt safe and secure, until I felt like myself again.
And I realized during this journey that my security was not in my circumstances, in the people in my life, or even in myself. My security came from God. It came in me seeing what he was doing in my life. It came through my decision to get off the floor and get to work. In Philippians, Paul says:
Keep on working to complete your salvation, and do it with fear and trembling. Yes, God is working in you to help you want to do what pleases him. Then he gives you the power to do it.
— Philippians 2:12–13 (ICB)
I love this! We have to keep working to complete our salvation, not because we can add anything to it ,but because God is at work in us to bring himself glory, and when we have to rebuild our walls, he gives us the power to do it. I know without a doubt that I could not have done this on my own. If it were solely up to me, you’d find me on the floor in a classroom at Lake Highlands Baptist Church. However, because God was already at work in me, through his power I have rebuilt my walls, and truly they are far superior to what I had before.