hope spiritual

The Rubble

9:14 AMHeather

We all have rubble. That's what I told her. It was a spontaneous thought, but it's so very true. As she sat on my couch crying, and frustrated with herself for crying. But we told her--me and another friend--we told her we all have rubble. In fact, we admitted our own rubble. And we told her that there's no shame in crying about it. She was beating herself up for "not dealing with it well." 

I laughed.

I know that sounds mean spirited.

But I explained quickly that not dealing well with our rubble looks more like self-destructive behavior, such as substance abuse, or choosing to live in complete denial. 

Not dealing well with our rubble does not look like crying about it. It's okay to mourn the rubble. Then I had to fess up. That in fact, just hours earlier, I had come home to sit alone and cry. Because my rubble was hurting me again. I had once again been tripped up by it. She nodded in complete agreement about that feeling when the stab of the pain is so fresh and you wonder if the rubble will ever clear away. If, although you've scooped it to the side, you will ever quit falling because of it.

Oh, yes. We all have rubble in our lives. Ruin from loss and pain and heartaches and disappointments. Rubble from things we tried to build that came crashing down. Rubble from our own mistakes, or the mistakes of others. Rubble from decades-old demons. 

It's rubble, nonetheless. I don't care how pretty the landscape appears, there's rubble somewhere. I don't care how big the fake smile is or how happy-go-lucky the person seems. There is still rubble. No matter your age or race or upbringing or financial status or marital status. 

There's rubble from words flung so hard that walls of self-esteem came crashing down. There's rubble from plans made and dreams dreamed that ended up in piles of dust and debris. There's rubble from earthquakes of death and abuse and neglect and despair.

We all have rubble. 

Wouldn't it be better if we just quit trying to hide it? If we just reminded each other it's okay to cry about it?

The Israelites stood amongst the rubble of their holy city of Jerusalem. Gates had been burned. Walls crumbled and tumbled down into just piles of nothingness. Their protection and security were gone and they were laid bare. There they were, standing in their rubble. The dust of it caking their faces, and their eyes taking inventory of the complete loss.

We can stand in our rubble, too, and assess the damage. 

But then, there is a decision to make.

Will we sit down in the rubble and wail and moan and be defeated? Will we be defined by our rubble, going the rest of our lives feeling as though we are somehow owed something because of the rubble we lament?

Or will stand up and stand firm and do something about it? 

Will we assess the damage and then pound the doors of heaven to help us rebuild? 

Some of those Israelites, as described in Nehemiah, had never seen the city of Jerusalem in it's glory days. Some of them had never seen how busy and vibrant and wonderful it had been. Some of them knew nothing but the rubble. 

Maybe that's you. Maybe you cannot even remember a time when there were beautiful dwelling places in our life, or walls standing strong and grand to protect you and strengthen you and surround you. Maybe you feel as though all your life has ever been is trying to dodge the rubble.

But despite all that lay in pitiful heaps around them, those Israelites dared to hope. They dared to dream beyond what had been torn down to consider what could be built up to replace that which had been lost. The book of Job describes a man of great wealth and prosperity who suddenly became a man lying in the ashes of complete and utter ruin. 

Yet the story didn't end there.

God rebuilt something amazing and even more wonderful in place of the rubble. The rubble can be bulldozed to create a new foundation for new things.

He can do the same for us. 

He can take our willingness to dare to consider new walls and new gates and new buildings, and from that, he himself builds the foundation. He himself is the Corner Stone.

If we will look to him and ask him to set himself right down in the midst of all the piles, then we can begin to look for him for direction. We can begin to beg of him to help us rebuild. We can pray and be obedient to take up the tools he may offer and to go about the overwhelming task of rebuilding, one tiny brick at a time.

He is the architect. He is the master builder. He is the dreamer of new things. The Lord anointed Christ to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve...

...to bestow on them a CROWN OF BEAUTY instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Jesus came to clear all the rubble. He wipes it all away and takes care of it for us. Over and over and over again. We can run to him with our tears and our sorrow as we stumble over our rubble.

He dreams for us of new things and new buildings and new growth that have never existed before. For those Israelites who had never seen Jerusalem before its destruction, they had to believe that God could create something that they could not conceive. They had to muster up the faith to consider a Jerusalem surrounded by strong walls. They needed just enough faith to grab a hammer and join the work.

Because that is what happens when we run to Jesus with our rubble. He binds up our broken hears, and he proclaims freedom as he releases us from being trapped under our rubble. He shouts favor over our broken places and comfort for our grieving hearts. He provides for us in our grieving. 

And gradually, he begins to paint beauty from the ashes. He is the master artist who uses broad strokes to cover mourning with gladness and praise instead of despair.

When we run to him with our rubble and entrust him to build something from it, he performs the biggest miracle of all. He frees us from our rubble for a purpose. He dares us to join in the rebuilding. He calls us to let our rubble places become our places of ministry. 

So that we "will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; and we will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations." (Isaiah 61:4).

The bottom line is that you may have rubble as your inheritance. It may be your heritage, passed down through generations. Like the young Israelites who came to a Jerusalem that was in complete destruction. That was the city handed to them. 

But they rose from the ashes and let God lead them. They dared to  obey and to join in, believing that while they could not change their heritage, they could change their legacy. That the rubble of their forefathers could be transformed into a home for future generations.

Whatever your rubble story is, it can be used. It can become your story to help someone else rebuild. You can take the heaps of destruction handed down to you and choose to renew those ruined cities for yourself and future generations. No matter how long that rubble has been passed down from one generation to the next, you can accept the call to step out and build something new and wonderful and healing from it by letting God use the rubble places as building blocks for future good.

The nails were used to hold our Christ to the cross. So that we might hammer him into our splintered lives and let him create wondrous things from it all.

Even from the rubble.

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