When it came to the title of our forth-coming book, Rebuilt, (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2013) the publisher and editor decided what it would be. But, we were actually delighted with their choice. Rebuilt is a word that appears dozens of times in the Bible, and is a basic exercise entrusted by God to those who serve him: building back up what has been damaged or destroyed by sin and selfishness.
One of the places the word is most often found is also one of my favorite stories of rebuilding: the Book of Nehemiah. It is among the shorter books of the Bible, but tells a compelling story of a man who bravely steps forward to acknowledge a problem, one which he deeply regrets: the walls of Jerusalem have fallen into disrepair, mostly because of the sin and neglect of the people. He works despite all kinds of obstacles and adverse conditions and critics and the threat of conflict and he succeeds with amazing speed. Along the way, Nehemiah helps turn hearts to God’s word and a better way of life. He helps them understand that
The joy of the Lord is your strength.
The story we tell in Rebuilt (and it is a story) is about building back up what was in disrepair, the result of sin and neglect. It was not until we recognized and repented of what we were doing wrong, that we were able to move forward. We had to first regret what we were getting wrong and repent humbly before we could hope to build a healthy parish. But, that done, in God’s strength we could successfully begin the joyful process of rebuilding our parish.
All of our stories include regret, nobody gets it all right all the time. I know I have regret in my life. There was a whole season of my life in which I allowed critics to consume me, and anger me and depress me. And my anger and depression in turn led to bad choices. I regret it all.
When we come to places of regret in our story, the temptation is to deny it or hide it. Don’t do it. Because that is your building site. God wants to help you rebuild your financial situation, or your marriage, or your friendship, your health, or maybe your church.
Acknowledge what you’re getting wrong and start the joyful process of rebuilding with God’s strength.