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Standing in Rubble

Nehemiah Rubble City wall

Our ladies Bible study group just finished Beth Moore’s Quest. So I’m looking at the questions of the Bible differently. I’m also editing my third novel about a couple in the middle of a divorce. Editing isn’t the right word. “Bogged down in the mire of revisions and rewriting” better describes the current situation.

This morning my Bible reading took me through the book of Nehemiah. A Bible study a few years ago walked my Sunday school class through the book from beginning to end. This morning, however, a particular verse stood out to me.

Let me set the scene. God pressed on Nehemiah’s heart to return to Jerusalem and repair the city wall to protect his people. King Artaxerxes agreed to Nehemiah's request to follow God’s call. Nehemiah rallied the people and everyone worked on their section of the wall to repair it.

Not everyone rejoiced at the rebuilding of the wall. Sanballat, a regional governor under the king of Persia, raised quite a bit of trouble for Nehemiah. The verse that resonated with me this morning came from Nehemiah 4:2

2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” [emphasis mine]

We’ve all asked God at one time or another, “What can do you do with this heap of rubble? It’s all burned to pieces.”

Nehemiah stared at the physical rubble of the wall intended to protect the city of his people. We may not have physical rubble, but the emotional and spiritual rubble often seems just as impossible to fix as that wall. Our rubble may be a marriage, a job, a financial situation, a child, a reputation, a relationship, a physical body or so many other things.

It’s not enough to have our life reduced to rubble, but then the people near us stand over it and scoff. Sometimes they tell us to just move on, that burned and charred mess will never rise up to be anything useful again. It’s best to just tie a do-not-resuscitate tag on it and let it go.

Sanballet discouraged the people rebuilding the wall with just a few words. The workers stood at the wall, mallet and mortar in hand, and turned to Nehemiah to say, “He’s right, we’ll never get this finished, they’ll kill us first.”

But do you know what Nehemiah did?

He beefed up security.

He stationed guards all along the wall and he armed the people repairing the wall. They worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other one.

This novel I’m cleaning up is written for everyone staring at a wall of rubble and hearing the people nearby declare, “It’s over. Just walk away.”

Before we sweep up our rubble and throw it in the landfill, give God an opportunity to bring life back to it. Keep reading in Nehemiah. The work gets harder before it gets easier. But eventually God bought life back into the charred heap of stones that used to protect the city. If anyone can breath life back into the rubble of our lives, it’s God.

Sometimes we just need to work with one hand and hold a weapon in the other.

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