Archive for July, 2012

This weekend I returned to east Tennessee . . . a place where I have memories of a crazy guy who pursued me like I think every girl deserves to be pursued . . . with intentionality, honesty, vulnerability, discernment…and a dash of self-control, may I add? (Courtship is a serious matter, certainly not void of passion–you better have some self-control!)

This (Johnson City, TN) was the place where David & I lived for the first two years of our marriage. This was the (exact) bench where I would sit and wait for David to get out of class . . . This was the place we didn’t notice that we only had 600 square feet of living space (things like that are insignificant when love is so captivating). It’s where we ate meals of royalty–many a grilled cheese sandwich and bowls of chicken noodle soup (while we lived off of my $23,000/yr salary) . . . until I forsook that lucrative compensation to travel with him during his senior year of med school at which time, we lived off of loans and my temp jobs in Dallas & Rochester (MN).  It was the hottest place I had ever been in September (with no air conditioning in my 130K mile Sentra) and the coldest place I had ever been in November–where I was the only female living in a house where we rented a room. Five males. One female. One bathroom. Love makes you do CRAZY things! Captivating & Crazy . . . that IS how love should be, isn’t it? So captivating that you don’t notice the things that are less than perfect. So crazy that 600 square feet or one room just means you can’t get too far away from each other–and that was just fine with us.

That was 1997. But this is 2012, and this weekend, I took the children to some of those nostalgic places and tried to paint some memories of a man, their daddy, whom they can hardly remember.  I am confident that second-hand memories are better than none at all…and they love the stories…and to hear family talking about their daddy.  I love to see them catch glimpses of who he was and who they are in that reflection.

Yet, though I have been back to many sentimental places David and I shared, this weekend, I was confronted with the fact that it leaves me, personally, in a place of “rubble & ruin,” much like I think the Jews must have felt when they were called to return to a Jerusalem which had been destroyed.

How do you return to places that once embodied such love and joy and hope and happiness and dreams, and, yet, not stay in a place of ruin & rubble? It used to be part of my life. And historically speaking, it will always be a part of me . . . and my children. But practically, outside of imparting memories to ensure my children have knowledge of their roots, I’ve come to accept, that revisiting ruins are a part of rebuilding, and it’s okay to ask God to grant me a “double portion,” in the latter half of my life, just as He did Job. (It just seems a little selfish to me when I start to request that) . . . How could I ever be given twice the life that David & I once had? How does one pray, “Lord, give me more than what I had in my first husband,”? It doesn’t seem quite right. But . . . if I want God to RESTORE my life to that capacity, then I must ask with faith, believing that He will do it.

Nehemiah 1:3 says, “Those who survived the exile…are in great trouble…the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and it’s gates have been burned with fire.”

I will say that I do feel like “I’ve survived the exile” over the last 5 years since David’s death (June 4, 2007), while experiencing my own broken walls and burned gates. All that was once “fortified,” is now proverbially destroyed.

What I have found in this process of healing and rebuilding is that there is no choice except to “return” to places of ruin & rubble, hard places (geographically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually) with the expectation that God WILL heal and rebuild and restore.  He certainly doesn’t want to lure us to those places to trap and torture us or to tether us to pain. I believe, on the contrary, that He asks us to Trust Him to travel with him in order that He can be all we need in order to give us more than we ever thought we would otherwise be capable of experiencing: His Word, His Peace, His Bounty, a Hope and a Future . . .

I have frequently heard God whisper, “Come let us rebuild…” (Neh 2:17), just as Nehemiah encouraged the Jews to do.

Thankfully, that is an exhortation that I heard the Lord impart in the deepest part of my heart in the earliest moments of my grief & despair…the conflict was the competing volume of the ruin & rubble–which was piled quite high.  Or perhaps it was that I was buried underneath it, and I had to dig out from under the weight and the pressure in order to hear at all.  And since those early moments after destruction unraveled, I have been choosing between

RUIN & RUBBLE

and

REBUILDING & REPAIRING…

Emotionally. Mentally. Physically. Practically. Spiritually.

REBUILD & REPAIR. REBUILD & REPAIR.

That is what you do when the walls crumble.

But as the story goes, the rebuilding of Jerusalem was not without opposition and, “They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed'”(Neh 6:9).

As was then, is now: the enemy’s role is to thwart REbuilding.

thwart REpairing.

thwart REstoring.

thwart REdeeming.

So just as Nehemiah prayed, I have prayed many times & continue to pray,

“Now strengthen my hands.”

God has, indeed, so faithfully strengthened me & has been RE-making me after I fell to pieces on June 4, 2007…you may not have seen all the pieces that laid around as collateral damage, but they were there. The only reason you may not have noticed the mess is because that’s exactly how God’s grace works…He empowers and strengthens us to do things that we can otherwise never do on our own…and for me that began with learning to breathe again. Literally. Once you catch your breath, then you can start to build…again…slowly.

Jeremiah 31 promised that the Jews would be restored after they were exiled…

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;

I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt…” (v 3-4)…

I will refresh the weary & satisfy the faint (v25).”

NeverTheLess, I will bring health & healing to it;

I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace & security.

I WILL…REBUILD THEM… (33:6-7).

“This is what the Lord says:

‘You say about this place, It is a desolate waste, without men [David]…”

Yet…there will be heard once more the sounds of joy & gladness,

the voices of bride & bridegroom…saying,

Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; His live endures forever.
For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before, says the Lord (33:10-11).

There is still a lot of rubble that I trip and fall over as I walk the paths that God has called me to walk.  However, I have come to know that when His Word says

NEVER-THE-LESS,

it means, NEVER-THE-LESS.

God NEVER intends to give us LESS than what will facilitate a life full of eternal impact . . . and though that is not void of pain and hardship, though everyone has some degree of ruin & rubble to crawl out from under & to overcome, God will be faithful to build and re-build, if need be.

He is faithful. He will complete the work He started in us.

He will rebuild.

He will restore.

He will redeem.

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