arise, rebuild [a chorus and mission for 2015]

As January buds and ripens, I have a lot of friends that pick words to name the new 365 days ahead of us. This idea has always intrigued me. Being a word-lover myself, I get a little crazy about naming things. God knows this about me. Yet I have always struggled naming a year at the beginning. I like naming things I know. I’ve written a little about naming years past and the lessons that met me, but last year felt like a survival. It was a year when the words left me. And it was only a few weeks ago that Jesus gave me a word that is setting me free. [But that’s another blog post coming…]

But there is a sort of reckless faith in naming something you don’t know yet. Just like a mother and father weave letters together from the past and present to name an infant only hours old, naming our years can also hold such expectant hope as to how this word will grow into us, much like a growing child begins to color and deepen the letters of their name.

So I met this year with a white page. In fact, I kinda got a little obsessed with the color white in general. I painted the walls white. I got a white rug. I bought white shirts and white dishes and white picture frames. I think my soul just wanted some sort of healing. I wanted to be clean of the words that wounded and the memories of battles and the fact that darkness came so close to choking the life out of me. And I didn't ask for resolutions, I only begged for healing.

And suddenly, slowly, like the rain when it starts to fall, the words started coming.

I had thought the words were gone forever. I thought I would never find them again. I thought there was simply nothing left to say. But they began to trickle in and fill my broken heart and the life returned.

As 2015 broke open, so did I. And that January morning found me pouring over His words and they began pouring into me. He brought me to the words of Nehemiah and Ezra. You see, these are my old friends. I’ve found such wisdom, courage, hope, and direction through their stories. They stood in ashes, the ashes of their nation’s harlotry against God, the ashes of faith abandoned, the ashes of the enemy’s success. It was a wilderness.

But there in the ashes, God stirred their hearts and gave them words:

"Arise, rebuild."

And as my eyes I read over these two black words, God pressed them deep into my soul like a healing balm. It was His message to me. It was Him calling to me, defining me, keeping me.

It’s time to rebuild.

This is not a bruised hope to try and survive another year. It's a message and a calling on my life.

We are all surrounded by ashes. People hurting. Families broken. Marriages misplaced and misunderstood. Vision fumbled. Sin scarring. Blindness setting in. All the rumble around us speaks words of hopelessness.

But the God of resurrection says, "This is not the end," and we hold our breath.

"Get up. It's time to rebuild."

And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. (Ezra 2:18, ESV)

The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. (Psalm 116:6-9 ESV)

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalm 126:5-6 ESV)

And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:28 ESV)