Crises are enlightening. They force us to assess what is important in our lives. Sometimes we find we have neglected our most valuable assets for the pursuit of the trivial and worthless.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.Psalm 23:4
What Walls Need to Be Rebuilt?
Janice reeled from the doctor’s response. She realized she had not taken care of her health properly. Now what was she going to do?
Bobby felt helpless. He knew he should have repaired the roof after the last storm. His wife kept reminding him, but now it was too late. The whole roof and ceiling would have to be replaced.
It was only a small leak. Dan didn’t think it was a big deal. Whenever the oil light appeared he was careful to stop and put oil in his car. He didn’t realize the oil was collecting on the back of the motor and now it was hot-very hot and smoking!
Why is it that we wait until the crisis to realize that certain walls in our lives are broken down?
Being called to the principal’s office, notice of bounced checks, bad reports from health checkups, reception of divorce papers, family arguments over trivial matters, the sudden death of a friend-these are crises that shake us. But do they wake us up?
Accidents will happen. Offenses take place. Good news, as well as bad, comes to us all.
Are We Willing to Acknowledge Our Situation?
Everyone struggles at times with financial, emotional, and physical trauma. It is part of life.
But, how do we handle these crises? Are we prepared to face “the valley of the shadow of death”?
First, we have to recognize that certain walls need to be rebuilt. Until we are willing to assess the situation in which we find ourselves we will never be able to do anything about it.
A business owner must take inventory of his or her stock on hand. If a shortage is found then orders must be placed immediately. A shortage can reduce the owner’s ability to run the business properly resulting in lost sales and profits.
Sometimes it takes an outside person to help us see our need. That person may be a friend, counselor, or family member.
Scripture tells us of such a person whose name was Nehemiah. Upon his inquiry he discovered that the walls of Jerusalem were lying in rubble. The citizens of that city had failed thus far to replace them. Familiarity and complacency had blinded their eyes to their situation. They were comfortable in their dysfunction.
Obtaining a leave of absence from his occupation as the king’s cupbearer, Nehemiah traveled to Jerusalem. Shortly after his arrival he set out to view the walls which were broken down.
After Nehemiah’s inspection he confronted the citizens with the facts. To effectively remove the reproach from their lives they would have to rise up and rebuild the walls that surrounded them.
And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.Matthew 3:10
Separate Important from Trivial
One of the gates that needed to be rebuilt in Jerusalem was the dung gate. This is where the trash was taken out of the city and burned.
So much rubbish had accumulated that the work of rebuilding could not be accomplished until this gate was cleared and rebuilt.
Assessing what was salvageable and what was useless was an important step in rebuilding the city walls. It is also an important step in rebuilding our lives.
Separating what is important from what is trivial or useless can be difficult. We tend to cling to what is familiar to us. We seek comfort in our attempt to escape from reality. Yet, that attempt only brings temporary relief.
Get Rid of the Rubbish
We must make an effort to get rid of the rubbish in our lives.
The process may be slow, but every step toward a better life is one step closer to the final destination.
The accumulation of physical goods that clutter, junk foods that hinder our health, emotional baggage that we cling to, and the lack of proper mental and spiritual exercise affects our mental outlook and our physical well-being.
We must take serious inventory and separate what is good in our lives from what is bad. Some things just need to be tossed if we are going to see any progress.
Establish Proper Relationships
The next step in the rebuilding process is to establish proper relationships.
Adjust Your Expectations
Dysfunctional relationships are called dysfunctional because they are just that – dysfunctional. One or both parties are expecting the other to meet all their emotional or physical needs.
So much expectation is demanded that the relationship is smothered to lifelessness. Frustration mounts. Violence sometimes ensues.
No individual can meet someone else’s every need. The only one who can meet all our needs is Jesus Christ. Our focus must shift to dependence on God and His sufficiency.
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.Matthew 20:28
Reach Out to Others
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.Galatians 6:10
Closing the doors of our lives to others is unhealthy. Just as Jesus came “not to be ministered unto, but to minister,” we must also reach out.
Finding those who have interests as we do and joining a circle of friends will enrich our lives. Many long-lasting relationships have been developed due to the comraderey found in such groups. This can be an important step in finding friends if you are lacking in this area.
Observing the needs of someone else and ministering to that need will also help us to feel accomplishment. Making a phone call, sending a card, fixing a meal, mending a garment, volunteering yard work or car repair – these are all ways of helping meet the needs of others.
Set Proper Boundaries
Ministering to others does not mean that we allow others to take advantage of our blessings.
Yes, we must love our neighbor as ourselves. But love must also speak truth to our neighbor.
Scripture tells us of a family man whose neighbor woke him desiring food. The neighbor had received visitors and was unprepared for their arrival.
The family man arose albeit reluctantly and gave the neighbor provision. He was showing himself to be a good neighbor and providing an obvious need. (See Luke 11:5-8.)
Yet, if the neighbor woke the family man every night for several days then the family man must speak truth in love to the neighbor. The neighbor must be reminded of his own responsibility in providing for his visitors and go to the grocery store and purchase needed supplies.
Setting proper boundaries sometimes brings fear of losing friends. However, true friends appreciate proper boundaries. Good relationships demand it.
Establish New Habits
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.2 Peter 1:5-7
Apostle Peter emphasized that new life in Christ brought about a change in character. A person’s newness was to be modeled after the life of Jesus.
Whether we had good role models or not as we grew up, we can look to Scripture and model our lives after the best role model anyone can have. That role model is Jesus Christ.
Our attempts at changing our lives will fail unless we place our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then we must diligently add to that faith virtue.
Virtue is having the courage to do what is right regardless of the circumstances. Having that courage will enable us to become a role model for others.
The more knowledge we have of Jesus Christ the more we will have discernment when we are confronted with difficulties. Having ethical principles that do not change due to emotion or relationships or politics will help us to respond to difficulties appropriately.
That knowledge will come as we establish the habit of reading God’s Word. Our minds are thus renewed and our lives are transformed.
Make Better Choices
Replace poor media choices and inappropriate literature with that of good moral content. For example, if an individual struggles with adultery, it would be self-destructive to read novels promoting adultery.
The lack of self-discipline has caused the walls of many lives to come crushing down. Giving in to peer pressure has led many down dangerous paths to addictive behaviors, criminal activity, and lack of self-respect.
Self-discipline or temperance starts with finding direction and purpose in one’s life. Making plans and setting goals is appropriate, but until steps are taken to fulfill those plans they will not be realized.
For example, desiring to purchase your own car is a worthy goal. Yet in order to achieve that goal a person must have a savings account of some sort and diligently set aside funds each week until the purchase price has been obtained.
Waiting until the needed funds are collected may take patience. Yet patience has its reward. Imagine the feeling when you are handed the keys to the car that you just purchased yourself.
Improve Your Skills
Apostle Peter said to add godliness to patience. Godliness has to do with becoming fit for the purpose that God has for us on this earth.
Jesus Christ Himself grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man (See Luke 2:52).
Don’t be afraid to seek additional training to better your position in life. Become a companion of those who are wiser than you are. Glean from their wisdom.
Be an apprentice, take classes, volunteer. Read books and magazines that pertain to your area of interest. There are also online courses and video classes for almost every skill.
Don’t overwhelm yourself. Just take one step (class) at a time. You can succeed.
Treat Others the Way You Want to Be Treated
Let’s face it. Not everyone is nice. Not everyone is likeable. That does not mean that you or I have to respond to other’s mannerisms in like manner.
Having a proper attitude is crucial to having a good day. So what if the rain is falling? Thankfully, flowers will soon bloom. The grass will be greener. The air will be clearer.
Expect Rebuilding to Take Time
As someone once said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It takes time to rebuild walls that have been broken down. Yet, with determination and the right materials they can be built better and stronger than they ever were before.
Just because mistakes have been made in the past does not mean that your or my past must dictate our future. Yes, those mistakes do affect us, but they do not determine who we are or what we will be unless we allow them to.
Every morning is the start of a new day. Prepare to make it a good day and let nothing deter you from that.
Resolve in your heart that with the Lord’s help you will rebuild your life. He is faithful to help you if you turn to Him “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (See 1 Peter 5:7)