Where to start...
Where do you turn when your life just seems to have gone from bad to worse? Do you look for someone to blame? Do you blame yourself? Do you get angry, discouraged, depressed? All of these are natural responses to bad situations. Even so, none will bring you up out of the mess in which you find yourself. So what should you do? Look on the bright side, or look for the bright side? Start seeking solutions? Certainly these may help, especially if your problem is of recent origin and a temporary situation. Yet often our current problems have a root somewhere in the past. In the Bible, God speaks often metaphorically or in allegory. While it is true that the ancient writings are based on historical fact, God's purpose for providing them is not so we can all be great historians. They are provided to teach us many great lessons that can be applied in numerous ways to our modern lives, both personally and collectively. My purpose, my calling, I believe, is to draw out the parallels that can be applied on a very personal, intimate level. That said, I am thinking today of a few scriptures in Isaiah, where God talks about rebuilding. Isaiah 54:11 and 12, and Isaiah 58:12.
In both scriptures, He talks about rebuilding the foundations. Since we are His workmanship, His building, His temple, and since physical buildings are here today and tomorrow will be destroyed, it is safe to assume that God is concerned not with stones, wood, and mortar, but with the lives of His precious children.
I think about the scriptures in Isaiah. In Isaiah 54:11 He starts by saying, "Oh afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted." Have you ever felt like that? Have you wondered, "Where was God when I was suffering? Why wasn't anyone there to help?" And noticeably absent from the scripture is an explanation or answer to those questions. But there is a promise. I will rebuild you from the foundation up! And it will not be a sloppy, haphazard job! Isaiah 58:12 says, "Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations."
I believe that an appropriate application (though not the only one) is that God wants to restore us by recreating the crumbled foundation of not only our past, but the generational legacy that may have brought trouble into our lives before we were even born. If you draw a diagram of your family's history, do you see a pattern of perhaps mental illness, alcoholism, physical abuse, abandonment, witchcraft, incest, poverty, greed, emotional disconnection, manipulation, exploitation, or any number of other dysfunctions carefully protected under a beautiful painting of the perfect family?
Perhaps that lashing storm was God's way of peeling away the paint, the deception, the denial, so you, His precious masterpiece, can be restored. He starts with the foundation. Your foundation is the beliefs, deeply held on an emotional, cellular level, passed down through the generations in your family. Those beliefs serve to bring more of the same into your life without you even being consciously aware of it. So the start is to allow God into the deepest recesses of your foundational belief system and allow Him to uncover, confront, challenge, and literally remove the moldy, crumbled, chaotic disarray of stones from your foundation.
Let those things go. It may feel at first that you will literally topple over. The truth is you were never really standing. It was always precarious. God's steady hand will hold you while He replaces each crumbled stone with a new, precious, brilliant sapphire. This calls for an incredible amount of trust. You must trust God and yourself. Honestly, I think many people never allow this to happen. They would rather hold on to the familiar, no matter how painful, than risk letting go. My hope and prayer is that if you are reading this, you will be like Joshua and Caleb, strong and courageous, very strong and very courageous.
Once you allow your foundation to be restored, not a small or quick task, you will be able, with God's help, to build the life He always intended you to have.
The rest of the building
Once the foundation is repaired and rebuilt, God has to also build the rest of the building,or city. He may be working simultaneously on the outer structure while repairing the foundation, but only so much can happen there until the foundation is secure. For this reason, even though lots of growth and restoration may be going on beneath the surface, we and especially others may not see it. Those religious "fruit inspectors" may raise the eyebrow at you, but pay no mind, they are just taking the focus off their own neglected foundation. God is doing a precious work in you.
So now, what about those battlements, or pinnacles? They are to be made of rubies. What are they for? During wartime, soldiers hide behind the battlements, which are the raised portions of the wall, while the lower parts support the aim of their weapons. Really God? Well yes, it is in His Word. Remember as Christians our weapons are not carnal but mighty for pulling down strongholds and that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, and dark forces in the heavenly realms. So we need those pinnacles to be in good repair. We need to be protected while having a clear shot at the enemy.
We need to have the shield of faith protecting us as we wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, against the wrong mindsets, temptations, and attacks of the enemy. We must allow God to build us up in these disciplines so that we know who our real enemy is and we engage in warfare effectively and appropriately. Well-built Christians do not easily become offended by the misbehavior of others. They see the enemy in the spirit realm and with deft and precision speak the Word directly to the situation and remain behind the protective battlements of rubies. In this way they are not harmed by the actions or inaction of unkind or immature people. We fight the enemy of our souls, those false beliefs and destructive habits, with the Word of God. When temptation attacks, we respond with God's Word.
Next, the gates and walls. Walls keep the bad things out, and the good things in, and gates let us bring the good things in and put any bad things out. When our ancient foundations were in ruins along with the city, we were continually invaded by bad things and our good things were taken away. This may have happened in the form of abuse or neglect. It could be a refusal or inability to value and validate a developing little person. There may have been a disregard for ego boundaries. There could have been excessive and cruel criticism. There may have been hunger or loss of safety and preciousness. Such things leave behind destruction, chaos, and disintegration.
God does not wave a magic wand like a fairy godmother, and pronounce us well. According to the Word, He rebuilds us bit by bit. It is not always fun and rarely is it pretty while we are "under construction." But with our cooperation I believe it can be complete. When it is, we will be beautiful. Then, we will sparkle in the light. Then He will say to you, "Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, and Restorer of Streets with Dwellings."
So after He rebuilds you, you will have the privilege of rebuilding others' lives and restoring the streets with dwellings for (people filled with) the Holy Spirit.