Ezra 9:9b- Our God has not deserted us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.
Just over a year ago, if you had asked me about my faith and my walk with the Lord, I would have told you, “Rock solid” or “we’re tight”. I might have said something like, “I put my full trust in the Lord.” “I depend on Him for everything”. “My strength and confidence are from Him alone.”
From 2005 through 2010 I lived in Colorado, and though not perfect (nothing ever is, is it?), in my eyes, it sure came close. Now, don’t get me wrong. I relied heavily on the Lord those five years. But how many of you know that sometimes, when life is more comfortable, it’s much easier to “Praise the lord” and “Thank-you Jesus” your way through it? I use to pray, “Lord break me, whatever it takes change me so that I might be more like You”. My prayers have changed a little since we have moved. There were days where I would just pray, “Lord, give me strength for this day”. And He did.
Now, before I get ahead of myself, let me be the first to tell you, I’m all about a little change (note the word little). I remember I use to always say, “Bring it Lord” as if invincible. Here’s a brief recap- In August of 2010, we felt like the lord was calling us to Brownsville, TX. We packed up our things, and whatever we couldn’t fit in the large U-Haul truck, we hauled off to the dump (and believe me, there was a lot of stuff that didn’t fit!). I remember being in the heat of the move saying, “It’s just stuff, we’ve got to get there!” We packed up our hamster, our dog, and our children. We then said the most painful goodbyes to people we had poured into for five years, and who in return poured their hearts and lives back into ours.
Here’s where the real change takes place. We moved from the richest county in the nation to (for real) one of the poorest counties. We moved from one of the healthiest states in the nation to a city that has one of the highest obesity rates. We moved from a place where we felt like everyone was like us, to a place where we are truly in the minority. I use to work about six hours a week, and now work about 36 hours a week. Our school in Colorado was not only a great school, but it was free. We now pay just under $1,000 a month for the kid’s school. My daughter was use to about 30 minuets of homework each night, to now anywhere from 2 to 3 hours each night. My kids went from being very liked and loved by all, to just being happy they have a friend- all the while dealing with bullying classmates. We’ve moved from a place where there were almost too many choices for things to do, to “What should we do, a movie or dinner?” And then there’s the whole culture shock thing. We went from like the whitest city (keeping it real people) to a border town five minutes from Mexico. To be honest, I didn’t really even think that would affect me. After a couple of months, I couldn’t really put my finger on what was wrong, until after my husband had a long talk with his brother who has been living in China for about five years now. He confirmed that culture shock is a real thing. He and his wife experience it whenever they come back into the states. There are books on it, there are studies on it, and yes, it just takes time to adjust. All of this change in just ten short months.
I have learned (and am still learning) some very hard, yet valuable lessons. I’ve had to ask myself some tough questions and do some serious heart work. Are all of the things that I have truly counted as valuable and important truly as important as I had once thought? Have I relied 100% on the Lord, or has some of my reliance been on self? Was I so comfortable in my lifestyle that when it was removed I was left trying to figure out who I really was, without all of the things that I thought defined me? The Scripture came to mind, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21). Could I be like Job and answer as he did?
Then, as I was in my prayer closet (which actually is a closet) the Lord had a Word for me (more like a few sentences). I feel like this might be for someone else out there too. Maybe you’ve been going through a hard time, some things have been removed in your life, or some major change is taking place. The lord showed me that He’s rebuilding my walls. My walls are being torn down- the walls of selfishness, pride, and self-sufficiency (although your walls might look different). I’ve come to a place where I’ve been asking Him to remove anything that is not of Him (didn’t realize how much that was!). It’s a process. Baby steps. He has shown me that He is going to build me back up in Him. He is making me stronger; He is leading me to a place where my character and my dependence are in Him alone (not external things or circumstance). That’s a hard one. As I dig into His Word, I am challenged and I am changed.
A great book to study in the Bible is the book of Ezra. The Israelites had come home to Jerusalem, only to find it in ruins. The Israelites had to rebuild. But in verse 4 there was opposition. Ezra 4:4- Then the people around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. V.5 they hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia. The Lord also showed me, as He is rebuilding these walls, that there will be opposition. The enemy does not want us to rebuild these walls because we will become an even more powerful witness to the life of Jesus inside of us- and many more will come into the kingdom. In Ezra 7:28 we read that the hand of the lord was on Ezra and because of that, he took courage. And to you I would say, take courage, and allow Him to rebuild your walls, because truly the hand of the lord is with you.
Psalms 119:28 (The Message) Build me up by Your Word
My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them.
Nehemiah 6:15-16 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.
Lord, would you break down these walls, this old building that was built on shaky foundation. Would you rebuild these walls to make its foundation strong in You. Tear down the things that are not of You, and put together a building that truly gives You glory. Amen
Acts 20:32- “Now I commit you to God and to the Word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.