it is time to build.

Every time I go to church (or my doctor, which seems to be almost as frequent of late) I drive by a huge building on the USF campus that has been under construction. Well, not really construction. What was a huge dormitory only a couple of weeks ago has been completely demolished over the past couple of weeks. It's amazing to me to realize how quickly and completely that massive building has been completely reduced to dust, and how every time I drive by there's dramatically less of the building to see. I started thinking yesterday about how easy it is to demolish that huge building, and how quickly and efficiently it can be done, in comparison to the time and planning and effort it takes to build or rebuild something like that.

In a lot of ways I see this in my life. I can build up this great habit or spiritual focus, and Satan can completely demolish what I've built in one fell swoop. I've seen it happen. Multiple times. I'm kind of at the point today where I look around and see ground zero, the result of Satan's demolition project, and am overwhelmed with all the planning and effort that I'm going to have to do in order to build something safe to live in. Maybe if I had done a better job the first time or had worked more in the maintenance of my spiritual building, Satan wouldn't have been able to tear me down so easily. But that's in the past. What I can do now is look ahead, asking the chief Architect for help in designing my life.

Our lesson last night at Lutz was on Nehemiah -- so well timed. Here are a few lessons I learned from Dr. Petty on Nehemiah that I want to put to use in my building project:

The Mind of a Builder:
1. Builders take responsibility.
--One of the most amazing things about Nehemiah in my mind is that he has never even been to Jerusalem, grew up in exile, probably quite comfortably, and yet he is completely devastated to hear of the state of Jerusalem. He even takes personal responsibility for the punishment of the people, saying "Even I and my father's house have sinned." He still recognizes his failings and the connection he should have with his true home in Jerusalem even though he hasn't seen it. Do I care this much about my true Home? Do my sins cause me to weep because they're destroying my building or my hope of a better Home? If I don't take responsibility for the ruins in my life, who will?
2. Builders go to God for guidance.
--Nehemiah consistently prays before acting, realizing the value of God's opinion. If I'm going to rebuild my life, doesn't it make sense to ask the Designer of my life for help?
3. Builders have to be willing to sacrifice.
--Nehemiah gave up a comfortable and privileged job, even a relationship with the king, to go to a dangerous environment in which he is giving everything up to lead the people. If I'm going to build something worth having, I'll have to give some things up.
4. Builders must have patience.
--Nehemiah waits for answers from God and God's timing, as well as working hard over a long period of time on the wall, having to deal with persecution and mockery and danger. If I'm going to rebuild my life, I have to put in the time and effort--it won't happen in a day.

Like Nehemiah and the people of Israel, I'm realizing the value of rebuilding the walls around my heart. I'm realizing the importance of a firm foundation. I'm realizing it'll take time to plan and build a wall that Satan can't knock down in a moment. I'm realizing sometimes I'll have to hold a sword in one hand and a hammer in the other, that I'll have to build and fight at the same time. I'm realizing it's time to rise up and build. I have a mind to work.

Pray for me, I'll pray for you. God is good.

Happy things: chilly weather, mattress pads, asking day, Lutz, my best friends, DD, a new week, air fresheners, yogurt covered raisins, reading John with Lauren H, Revelation with Kate.