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Returning and Rebuilding

I’ve been thinking and reading about the stories of Ezra and Nehemiah, the return of the exiles to Jerusalem to begin the rebuilding process. The stories are pretty sweet, filled with crazy events like: former enemy kings funding the reconstruction of Jerusalem – to appease the god of a conquered people (quite ironic), mass emotional outcries, incredible celebrations, and giant communal confessions. But I’ve been thinking more about the differing states of the city and the people within it.  

Jerusalem was the physical representation of Judaism and the temple within it was a powerful visible reminder of Israel’s past, present, and future in relationship to God. The physical city was a symbol of the covenant God made with Abraham and his descendants. It was defining to the Jewish people. It was a marker of their special place in relation to YHWH.
The destruction of the city was the destruction of the things they held dearest to them. It would have been like a family’s home being burned down within which countless wonderful memories were created. It made the Jewish people feel foundationless, so closely was their religion tied to their city and its temple. When the reign and glory of Jerusalem ceased, so, it seemed, did Israel’s special relationship with YHWH.  

It’s interesting, however, that while the city was strong, imposing, and beautiful, the Israelites were weak, sinful, debaucherous , and disgusting. The two contrasted eachother, but God ended the contrast and allowed the people to be conquered and their proud city destroyed. Then the city became a mirror image of their quality of relationship with their Lover. Still, I have this image stuck in my mind of an incredible city that is just a farce representation of the people living within it.  

As the rebuilding process began (and, even when it was complete), the once decimated city was still just a distorted shadow of its former architectural glory, military might, and wealth. Yet, in these moments of rebuilding the mess, the city was more reflective of what God dreamed it to be like than in the moments when it was fully intact and it’s people were living in opposition to their God. This city in shambles was a site that made some of the Israelites weep, but the hearts of those that returned to it were so beautiful, obedient, humble, and strongly devoted. They were set on rebuilding the city of their God because of who their God was, not for the sake of their own vanity. The beautiful city was a sham and the broken city was actually the beautiful one. 

Perhaps my rebuilding was and will be like that. Perhaps the sense of stability and confidence in who I was in some ways became a self-deceptive ruse that allowed me to remain unchanging. Perhaps it took the destruction of everything recognizable, of the things that seemed to symbolically represent who I was, to help me to realize that the symbols that I thought were reflective of who I was had actually become meaningless symbols. The fact that my wisdom, strength, and confidence were intact did not mean that God was being glorified. Not at all, even though once those things were used in so many ways to bring joy to my Father, pride to my master, glory to my God. Perhaps their destruction was my exile from the city I thought was beautiful, but was actually an ugly charade. 

And perhaps their destruction will lead to my return to my shattered self and the beginning of the rebuilding process. And maybe even now, even in the demolition that is my life, I will be more beautiful as I am being rebuilt than I ever was when I had those things that were so central to who I was. And perhaps it matters a lot less whether I am ever as strong as I once was, as wise, or as confident, as long as my heart’s relationship to God is one with a deeper humility, sincerity, and love. Perhaps I will discover the strength of joy in the rebuilding, the passion to celebrate, and the contrition for confession. And perhaps new life and devotion is just a conversation with the king away. Perhaps.

 
 

 
 

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Categories: Miscellaneous
  1. KTK
    December 1, 2009 at 3:41 am

    I hope that “Perhaps” turns into an “Of Course.”

    • Jeremiah
      December 1, 2009 at 7:29 am

      Process in motion. It’s taking more than one conversation, but whatever has been moving inside me is beautiful and light.

  1. January 26, 2010 at 6:12 pm

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