Then I said to them, “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. -Nehemiah 2:17
Haddie is a woman after my own heart. Except that she isn’t a woman at all but a little bit of a thing. She is the fifth child in a family of six and the only girl. With five brothers you can just imagine the skill set she is developing.
Her mother recently posted a picture of Haddie on Facebook and it is one they should save and play at her wedding. Picture a little blond, blue eyed girl in a navy dress with three strands of plastic pearls (one for each year) and in her right hand she is carrying an ax. Plastic, but an ax none the less. I think it speaks volumes about the kind of person she will become. Her newest picture features her in a ballet skirt and a Darth Vader mask. Strength and beauty are her covering. Future suitors beware.
Like alert Haddie with pearls on the one hand, while sporting a Viking ax in the other, Nehemiah and the Jews taxed with rebuilding the broken-down walls of Jerusalem, had to be constantly on guard for enemies. They carried a brick in one hand and a sword in the other. In spite of every kind of personal and physical attack possible that wall was built in record time. It took leadership, encouragement, a royal mandate, supplies and swordsmanship. You have just described our recovery program.
People come to us and their treasure is gone. They have no strength and no weapons and no leader. Their walls are rubble and they have no shortage of enemies. Hope is the commodity most in need if those walls will rise, if those gates are to be made fast.
First, we need to help them find a new leader in Christ. Pearls of wisdom from God’s word need to be gathered and strung. Weapons are forged. Strength comes in numbers. Enemies are driven out. Now the walls rise.
I have been blessed to observe some stunning victories in the lives of people who crossed our threshold and stayed the course. I have sorrowed over the ones that did not, much in the way Jesus sorrowed over those He called who walked away. Our victories seem to be overwhelming the defeats in terms of sincerity, surrender and commitment.
When I had occasion to review our records with Larry, our Program Manager, a picture of grace and mercy and love going the distance emerged. There are men living and working and raising families who were once sitting in cells or sleeping under bushes. They have their life in one hand and the sword of God’s word in the other. I wish you could know them all. You may pass some every day as you go about your life and not realize it.
All of you have had a hand in this. You have been the pearl divers, the sword makers and the brick masons. Your unwavering, generous support and prayers have “called that which is not as though it was.” You have helped us rebuild lives and make fast the gates of our community at the same time. That is huge. I am so grateful.
We are going to keep on keeping on. We are going to keep rebuilding lives and creating opportunities for praise. We are going to populate the future with people of honor.
Is there a wall you need to rebuild in your own life? Today is a good day to begin. The Kingdom of God is handing out pearls and axes. Christ is saving a space for you beside Haddie.
Remember to count all your blessings and to make all your blessings count. May the Father, Son and Holy Spirit lend their inspiration and strength to all you do.
Pastor John LaMantia