Our own perspective of past errors, mistakes, sins, and brokenness can haunt us and distort the truth of how God actually sees us. And what He is restoring and rebuilding in us. ◊
Jim carried the burden of his mistakes for decades. He felt God probably didn’t love him as much anymore. If fact, he was inclined to think that any of his business and relationship failures were most likely a result of God punishing him as payback for his disobedience and sins. Even though he was a Christian and didn’t believe in “Karma” it was as if Karma was real in his case.
Katherine always saw herself as a product of longstanding brokenness. She felt invisible and inferior in her own family growing up and carried this depressed view of herself well into adulthood. Anytime she experienced a setback in a relationship or work situation she translated it into expected rejection and loneliness. Her thinking was that God probably felt the same way about her as she did herself. Why wouldn’t He? She was broken and not very worthy.
Alan was succeeding and performing again with excellence in his work. He was quite accomplished and progressing well in his career. Nevertheless, he still had nagging doubts of inferiority and fear of failure. It was as if someone was whispering in his ear and reminding him that he was a fraud and a real loser – that the deep hole he (and God) had long dug himself out of was once again looming and awaiting his fall.
Rebuilding From the Rubble
The Bible presents an excellent case study of the deep and real consequences of sin and disobedience conducted in blatant defiance of God. It’s played out as the long and sad story of the Hebrew nation, God’s own chosen people, who boldly and consistently rejected the teachings and ways of the Lord as passed to them by Moses and their forefathers.
Yet God had a long vision plan to restore, renew, and prosper them for a purpose that would eventually bless all the nations. Certainly, God has long been in the business of rebuilding and restoring from the rubble of brokenness and destruction.
Then and even now.
If this is the case, then why do we wallow in our brokenness like Jim, Katherine, and Alan? What does it take to get us beyond our own sullied past and move forward with a healthy self-esteem and vision perspective that frees us to blossom, flourish and restore all that God would want in us?
A vivid model for God’s rescue and our response can be found in the Old Testament Book of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah as a Symbol of the Holy Spirit
Long ago I heard an inspired sermon teaching series by pastor Jack Hayford on the Book of Nehemiah. The crux of his teaching was that Nehemiah, the bold man whose strong connections to the King of Persia allowed him to rally and literally rebuild a discouraged and broken Hebrew people living amongst the rubble of their destroyed city of Jerusalem, could also be seen as a picture, symbol or type of God’s Holy Spirit.
Note that the name Nehemiah literally means “YAHWEH comforts” in Hebrew, derived from the Hebrew word nachem meaning “to comfort.” In this light, the strong, assertive, and courageous actions of Nehemiah to stir up and re-motivate the broken psyche of the people of Jerusalem, is a beautiful example of what the power of the Holy Spirit can do in rebuilding and restoring fullness to the damaged psyche and rubble of our own lives today.
Yes, God wants to rebuild and restore the broken walls around our own identity and personality which have been ravished and damaged by our own direct or indirect sinful behavior, actions, disobedience and disregard of God’s ways and teachings.
And we see God’s plan of restoration revealed to us in the New Testament, as Jesus promises us the Holy Spirit, whom He calls Helper or Comforter:
“And I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper/Comforter, that He may abide with you forever.” (John 14:16)
The Holy Spirit Confronts and Rebuilds
Again, the historical narrative of Nehemiah is of one man leading the Jewish people in the midst of their mocking enemies to rebuild the crumbled walls surrounding their fallen city almost 150 years after its destruction. But this Biblical book is full of fascinating intrigue and parallels to the rebuilding of our broken life and psyche in the midst of our sinful memories and psychological scars after we are reborn in Christ and yield headlong to the power of Holy Spirit.
While the Temple had already been rebuilt and Jewish worship was reestablished in Jerusalem after the Babylonian destruction in the late 6th century BC, the people were vulnerable and exposed to mocking and threats by their pagan neighbors living just outside the city. Nehemiah guides the rapid, round-the-clock, and permanent rebuilding of fortified city walls and orchestrates his team of guards with swords to stand watch and protect the people day and night. Like the Holy Spirit, Nehemiah is a fierce and fearless leader who confronts his enemies and achieves what he came to accomplish.
Epilogue: Jim, Katherine, and Alan
Like Jim, Katherine, and Alan, many of us have a restored relationship with God through belief in Jesus Christ and worship Him well, but still have fears, doubts, and troubled minds. With mocking voices like an enemy in our heads telling us we’re of little value, that we cannot overcome our past mistakes, that we are still lost and unforgiven by God for egregious sins, we can wallow in spiritual depression and dysfunction.
Fortunately for Jim, Katherine, and Alan (real people with different names), they are overcoming their spiritual psychological distortions and emerging now as renewed and fortified disciples, “more than conquerors” even, in a very real battle with real impact in the Kingdom.
Are you and God rebuilding from the rubble of your past?
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. – John 16:7