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Beline Obeid
October 17, 2013
Seventy years after the fall of Jerusalem, survivors of the exile return to God's Promised Land. They're led by Nehemiah, a civic employee of Babylon, whose boss gives him a leave of absence to go back and rebuild the ruined city of his ancestors. Nehemiah makes the trip; sets up camp; and one night goes out to inspect the city.

It's far worse than he imagined.

The walls are completely broken down and overgrown.

It looks less like a city than a pile of rubble. Nehemiah goes back to the camp.

And he says to his leaders:

"You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace." (Nehemiah 2:17)

But Nehemiah adds that God has miraculously paved the way for them to be right here, right now. And God will not abandon them at this point in the project.

In response, his leaders say, "Let us start rebuilding." In spite of the odds against them, they engage the good work. (Nehemiah 2:18)

They don't do the work alone. A whole crowd of haters appears on day one of the reconstruction.

They stand around all day — not helping, of course — telling the workers how their endeavor is impossible. Telling them they're fools to believe the ruins can be rebuilt.

But they don't do the work alone. Nehemiah tells his detractors,

"The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in our city or any claim or historic right to it." (Nehemiah 2:20)

Our God is a God of rebuilding. A God who restores ruined hearts; reconciles ruined relationships; redeems ruined communities.

When conditions for full human flourishing are being rebuilt, God is at work. When we step out in courage to join God in his work, we cannot fail. Don't stand back and hate. Instead have the courage to jump in.

And if you are engaged in the daunting and difficult task of rebuilding — a relationship; a community; a city — don't listen to the haters.

The God of heaven will give us success.

Van Arragon is minister of the First Christian Reformed Church of Detroit, 1444 Maryland, Grosse Pointe Park. The phone number is (313) 824-3511.

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