Ready to Rebuild?
It’s a lesson God has been teaching me for many years, but one that keeps coming back around. It’s that valuable, that prevalent. It consistently shows up in the lives of those around me and reintroduces itself at the starting line of each new season. And it’s crucial preparation for taking your next step with effectiveness and courage.
It is engaging with the process at hand. Staying awake. Building awareness and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Walking with Him right into the face of the next rock or hard place.
Power is unleashed, change is possible, and maturity unfolds when we face what we’re grappling with and submit to the journey of God working all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Yes, you are actually a part of that!
It’s so easy to simply cry out to God, bemoaning our situations and expecting rescue. (There’s a place for that, and the Holy Spirit is the best comforter!) But you see, God is already working. He sees the end from the beginning. He already has good plans in mind, but if we're not engaged with Him in the process, we will learn nothing from the season and may not even recognize His rescue when it comes. Because, most likely, it will come in stages, and the first one won't look like what we expected.
God’s rescue involves YOU!
We’ve all experienced these rough patches—seasons where things are continually not going right and we can’t seem to get past the ruts we find ourselves in. Sometimes, it’s not just one season, but a series of them. This cycle can become very demoralizing over time. And it will keep on coming around unless you do something different.
Generally, people are far too quick to resign, settle for survival, assume that they’re just “not meant for a better life”. These attitudes are harmful, leaving space for the same defeatism to come back around. If life is coming at us in patterns that never seem to give way, it’s time to consider that maybe there’s more at play than mere situational irony. Maybe it’s time to stop doing the same old things, responding with the same attitudes, going back over the same past experiences, etc. We often forget that God isn’t going to force changes on us that we’re not positioning ourselves for (1 Corinthians 3:1-2).
Okay. Ouch. I know—when you’re going through something real and you feel like the world is against you, it’s infuriating to be told that you have to change in any way. But even if the circumstances aren’t directly your responsibility, your responses certainly are. You may not be able to change anything around you but you can start with what you have jurisdiction over—yourself. And that hurts. But it’s the first step to freedom, lifting yourself, your habits, your personality, your responses up to God and asking the Holy Spirit what needs to change. What isn’t helping? What can I learn? Where do I need to grow up?
God will not ignore these proactive prayers; He delights to answer them. The heart that is willing to go there with God is the heart that is committed to real change, the heart that will be ready for it when it comes. And the searching light of the Holy Spirit is the safest, most loving place to deal with yourself. There’s no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Only the way forward!
If you refuse to engage with God and build your spiritual stamina, the heaviness will only keep coming around, snowballing and becoming harder to handle. You won’t be equipped for the next step. And there will be less and less that other people will be able to do to help you.
Significant change will take place in your life when you engage with God and purpose to stay awake through the process, refusing excuses and lies, determined to push through the pain and get what’s yours. Because God has a plan for your life, good works for you to walk in, and a beautiful inheritance. That never changes. So, go after it in the strength the Lord provides, and don’t let anything stop you!
Pain can really send us stumbling here. We all say things like “I know it will hurt” or “In this life, we will have trouble,” but when it actually hits us in the face, we feel like, “Well, I didn’t mean THIS!” But anything that matters will be challenging.
Not only does your future strength and effectiveness depend on your development through this, but any and every relationship and dream you have depends on this, including your marriage, kids, job, witness etc. Future generations depend on you learning the lessons that God has for you to learn and claiming the victory that Christ has made available to you! Battles you fight well can become victories that you pass on so that the next generation may not need to fight the same ones!
What does this fight look like in everyday life?
First, anchor yourself in Who God is and what He says about you. Everything we’ve been discussing thus far comes from the Word of God and from the Holy Spirit who illuminates the Truth, turning it on in our minds. This is where our power lies. Connection to Him is vital to our spiritual health and growth.
Secondly, stop accepting excuses. It takes some practice to spot them if you’ve been living in them for a while, but if you are truly willing to be engaged in the process of freedom and healing, the Spirit will give you insight. If you are resistant, however, you will not learn anything useful, and you will feel, erroneously, that God is just picking on you. You have to set your face like flint and accept that it will be humbling and painful to grow past excuses. It will take submitting to God when he says things you don’t want to hear -- calling out damaging behaviors that you didn’t want to recognize. If you’ve lived in these behaviors for a while, you’re going to want to defend them. Don’t. Let them go. They are not your friends. Try new things that you’ve been resisting. Make an actual change, even if it’s small.
Third, take responsibility wherever you can. It depends on how deep of a rut you’re in, but when you’re in one, nothing good for you feels good initially. It's tempting to wait for an option to come floating by that feels good and is convenient in every way. But those things really don’t exist and anytime it looks like they do in someone else’s life, you’re not seeing every side of it. You’re not seeing the daily disciplines, the maturity it takes to maintain it, and the things they had to fight through to get there. Whatever change we’re going to have to make probably won’t feel good at first. But if nothing is working, it’s time to require something of yourself.
This is where we really need the Holy Spirit’s help spotting excuses that have wormed their way into our patterns of thinking and operating, especially personality-based excuses that keep you defending damaging patterns. Just because something comes naturally to you doesn’t make it helpful all the time.
Responsibility is a key component of maturity. We are no longer children, who simply receive what is given to them. We started there, but now, in light of all God continually gives, how can we not step out and engage with what He’s called us into? The motivation comes from remembering daily what that is and anchoring ourselves in the Truth so that we can combat the lies of the enemy and the clamoring of the flesh and the distractions of the world.
And the paradox is that the satisfaction and fulfillment will surely come. God keeps His Promises. God will also open your eyes to the blessings He had already surrounded you with, things your eyes might have been closed to before. Changed circumstances won’t change you as much as you think. Changed hearts will.
Finally, stand firm against the lies that will come.
Go for a full breakup with these lies. Align with the Lord and what He says, not just the general truths you know, but the rhema of the Spirit illuminating the Word every day. Then stand on it when you have the choice between that and the lies that will come at you in historically-weak places. The key word here is historically. The enemy doesn’t know everything, so he can only work with what he sees. He isn’t going to come at you with a lie you will overtly reject. He will use historical patterns to needle you in areas where you are vulnerable, issues you still deal with, areas where you are not fully cemented in the Heart of God.
In the biblical account of Nehemiah, once he made it clear that he was engaged with the Heart and Purposes of God to rebuild Jerusalem, the mockers came out of the woodwork with lies and accusations to try to deter Nehemiah from the work. Nehemiah’s answer is what ours should be, every time.
"The God of the heavens will grant us success. We will keep building, but you have no right, share, or historic claim in Jerusalem" (Nehemiah 2:20).
We must build on this. Be anchored in the Word of God and the Character of God, so that when you are tested, you go right back to that. Keep working; whatever you do, don’t just talk about what God said to do, but do it! And finally, remind the enemy that he has no legal right to touch God’s Work. You belong to God and you do not have to let anything in your gates that is not of God. Even if it sounds scary, don’t bow down to what you feel. Continue on in the Lord even if you are afraid. The more you feed yourself by the Voice of the Spirit, the more the clamor of the flesh will fade. What are you giving more attention to?
One final thought: Nehemiah expressed to his fellow Israelites, “Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be disgraced" (Nehemiah 2:17).
I propose to you that if there is continual disgrace and trouble in your life—maybe even generational disgrace and trouble—you would do well to ask the Lord what walls you have allowed to be torn down and left to disrepair. Even if it initially had nothing to do with you, it’s affecting you now.
So, where do you need to draw a line in the sand? Where do you need to commit to do things differently, for yourself and for future generations?
Where do you need to engage and rebuild?