For the past couple of years, instead of making a New Year’s Resolution, I have asked God to give me a word. Last year’s word – probably the HARDEST year of my life – was oddly enough, “Joy.” He challenged me to find joy in the hard things. There was plenty of hard to choose from. I’ve talked about the gut wrenching hard on several posts in the past couple of months, so I’d like to take a break from rehashing the gory details.
When 2020 rolled around, the word God gave me was, “Rebuilding.” I had to check and double check because the last 4 years were a build up to the ultimate crisis explosion of 2019. In 2017, I thought that nothing could be worse than almost dying. In 2018, things continued to build upon the healing from nearly dying. In 2019, I reached my breaking point and literally became out of my mind. My world came crashing down into a pile of mess. My family was a mess because of people who had severely wronged us. My family was a mess because I was a manic-depressive mess. It stinks being the reason your family is a mess. It stinks when it really IS your fault. Overall, living in the mess of utter destruction just stinks. It just stinks.
So when God told me that my 2020 word was “Rebuilding,” you can see why I thought it was my flesh wishfully thinking. So, I started to study the word in the Bible. In Hebrew, “shuwb,” “to rebuild,” “to reconstruct,” “to restore,” and “to return to.” Yes. That’s right. To return to. My study took me to what should be the obvious place, but it caught me by surprise.
I wrongly assumed that the rebuilding had to do only with the physical – our business, our finances, the physical needs of our family, our community, my mental health. The physical, yes. But that’s only a small part of it. First the spiritual. If the spiritual isn’t built up, then the strength for the physical is not. It’s all rooted in the spiritual.
The book of Genesis is crammed with this language. Adam and Eve. Separation. Sin. Then the stories of the rest of their descendants.
And to Adam [God] said,
“…By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
– Genesis 3:19
And the others that followed throughout the whole of the Old Testament…
Genesis, in its entirety, lays out the purpose for the Jewish people – to restore their relationship with God. To reconstruct God’s Kingdom. To return to a right relationship with God. But. But try as they might, they cannot do it. Not in Genesis. Not in Exodus. Not in any of the generations throughout the Old Testament. They can’t do these things because they are Man and He is the Lord God Almighty. No created being can, in their own strength, rebuild, reconstruct, restore, return to a relationship that is divinely created.
So, then, what?
This is humbling for me to write. I spent six years of my life teaching these exact principles in full-time ministry. I spent 13 years of my life pouring into teenagers because I so passionately wanted them to know the answer to this question. Here I am, now 37 years old, and God is smacking me in the face and saying, “Wake up! I’m right here with you, in you, through you. Wake up, Oh daughter of mine!” He’s looking me in the eyes. I look back to see the deep, kind, gentle eyes of a loving creator and the tension that has bound every muscle in my body for so long let’s go and I weep in His strong gentle arms.
It was hard to see because my ill brain was either crammed with hundreds of racing thoughts or completely void and numb. My brain became a barrier to Truth.
As this year has gone on I have, in multiple times of prayer – gut wrenching, crying out in pain prayer – I heard God nearly audibly say, “I am not done with you yet.”
I’ve searched and searched for what this is supposed to mean and I have finally figured it out. Just like he wasn’t done with His Chosen Tribe, he is also not done with the gospel redemption story in my life. He is not done teaching me or using me to reach other’s with the gospel.
So, then, what?
The Jews could not redeem their people, but God could. He could restore the relationship that was broken. He sent His Son, God in flesh, to begin new relationships with a few, then many. He built strong bonds with His people.
He then paid the price. The penalty for turning your back on God is death in the deepest, darkest, coldest, most un-empathetic place that could ever exist. Hell. He spent three days in Hell, then returned to earth. He was resurrected. His life was restored. He came back to rebuild God’s Kingdom from the ground up. He alone could build a stairway from heaven to earth.
It’s not just that God’s people were redeemed. It’s that I was redeemed. Restored. Rebuilt. Resurrected. My life matters. He is not done with me, yet.
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built…So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.Genesis 11: 4-5, 8
His Kingdom is not a grand temple here on dusty old earth. God’s Kingdom is a coming together of anyone who believes in Him, the Father, his son, Jesus Christ, and the spirit that comes to live in us when we proclaim that He is Lord of all. It is the unity of those who have returned to God, whose relationship has been restored, whose souls have been rebuilt, reconstructed by Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
As soon as a National Emergency was called on the United States of America, I braced hard. Businesses were shutting down – many of which would soon go out of business. Schools shut down. We were ordered to shelter in place. I was home with my three-year-old son teaching him and working simultaneously like so many parents around the world have done. These circumstances almost felt like the end of the world, but not in a good “Christ has returned” kind of way, but more like a life sucking, “I’ll get you, yet, my pretty!” kind of way.
As I held my breath and surveyed the scene around me, I started to peek out of the curtains as if a hurricane had passed. The sun was shining. The weather was not too hot. My son was happy because he could spend all of his time with Mom-Mom again. My load was lifted from not being tied to the office. And caring for a young child who was at preschool far too much. And trying to cook a healthy meal for my family. For the 30-pound-overweight-me. The health crisis that has devastated so many around the world became a saving grace for me. It gave me the chance to become healthy again. It cleared my mind so that I could return to God.
I am not done with you, yet.
In the months since I’ve been working from home. In the months since I’ve given myself permission to work less, be less stringent on my son’s academic activities, to allow myself to have a life outside of the family business and my illness.
In these months, rebuilding has commenced. My life has become less “keep your head down and grin and bear it” and more alive. I am rekindling the relationship with my Savior. I am renewing the bond with my son that I fought so hard for from his first breath. I am not just “the broken one” in my marriage, in my family, in my community anymore. I am becoming more myself than I have ever been.
That’s what God wants to happen in our relationship with Him – to become more of our own self than we have ever been.
He is not done with you, yet.