Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 2:11-20, Isaiah 62:8-12, Ephesians 2:19-22, James 2:14-26
Ask any of my friends and they will tell you this: I am terrible at the game of Jenga. It’s the one with wooden blocks stacked tall and intricately as a puzzle of sorts, criss-crossed in a stack that begs to remain unbroken. And yet, that is exactly the point of the game: taking turns slowly choosing just the right block to strategically remove, all while keeping the tower standing and intact. The first few rounds include some easy takeaways, but as the blocks continue to be removed the chances of the tower tumbling increase. And trust me, you do not want to be the one choosing the wrong block, causing the tumble, and ending the game.
Many days, it feels as if tragedy is looming and pain is just around the corner. Afraid, we don’t want to be the one to make our joys tumble into sadness, or witness our hopes disintegrating into ruin. No one wants to fall.
Jerusalem’s wall fell. Torn down and destroyed by fire, the walls and gates surrounding Nehemiah’s beloved city whispered a disgraceful story of shame and abandonment. Like standing beside a spilled tower of blocks, Jerusalem was filled with nothing but past memories and lost hopes. That is, until Nehemiah showed up with plans only God could have laid on His heart:
“You see the trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned. Come, let’s rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, so that we will no longer be a disgrace” (Nehemiah 2:17).
While we fear destruction and are anticipating all the ways we could mess things up, God has already planned restoration. Where we stand in ruin, He sees new creation.
Unfortunately, I have a hard time remembering this truth when I’m in the midst of painful circumstances. And every time I choose the wrong Jenga block, so to speak, I vow to never play again, wondering what I could have done differently to avoid pain. The thought that doesn’t cross my mind so easily is this: rebuild. I don’t see the point in stacking the blocks up again, only to fall once more.
But rebuilding is not an afterthought to God. Restoration and redemption are His priority. By God’s mercy, He allows our eyes to see glimpses of the restoration plan and invites our hands and hearts into the work. Nehemiah trusted in the good work God was doing through him, even when he could not yet envision the final product. He knew the God of the heavens would grant them success (v.20).
A new wall for Jerusalem meant much more than one more round of Jenga. The rebuilt walls protected a temple, creating a safe and sacred space for worship. In the same way, our God is always building us up to know and adore Him more. This is true restoration. Thanks be to Him.