By Erika Daly Wedemeyer
The last two years I've neglected my garden. Other things were more important. I managed to use some of my extra time to weed, but nothing beyond that. I remember last year staring at my garden plot, after weeding it, and thinking it was good to get rid of all those pesky weeds. And it is! But leaving the garden with only dirt, I left it vulnerable and bare. As you can imagine, this year the weeds are thicker and requiring a lot more of my time to rid my garden of all these irritating weeds.
Leaving my garden bare and not replacing the areas with healthy plants when I took out the weeds allowed room for more weeds to grow. True, we will have to deal with weeds when there's are garden. BUT a garden full of life, healthy growth, and care... leaves less and less ground for weeds to grow. This year, my garden will purposefully look different. I'm not just going to do the work of riding the thicker growth of weeds. I'm going to take time to plant various plants in my garden. It will not be bare this year.
Ruins are not that great either. We can see places with ruin, marked by holes and decay. Other places are falling apart because of some devastation or lack of care. What about us? You don't always see the ruins, desolation or bare places in a person. Some try to hide it and stay busy while others keep to themselves. We are surviving while living with the barren, ruined places inside our hearts and minds.
I like Nehemiah's response to hearing the news of desolation and ruins in Nehemiah 1:4. He sat down, wept and mourned for days. The respect and value he displayed allowed him to stop and take in what occurred, but he didn't stop there. I have. I've stopped there many times in my life when different occurrences brought pain which felt like a ruin. How could I go on with so much damage? Where do I start to observe what is still good and what is damaged beyond repair? Then you walk around surviving the ruins, or like my barren garden, with no replacement of healthy plants.
Nehemiah didn't stop there and we've seen many cities also not stop there. They took the time to go see where the devastation and ruins were and come up with a plan that would restore and rebuild those places full of damage.
In chapter 2:17-18 "Then Nehemiah said to them, 'You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.' And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, 'Let us rise up and build.' So they strengthened their hands for the good work.
Allowing yourself to not stop at seeing the devastation will keep you from just surviving. Rebuilding, restoring, and planting new are vital! You will LIVE when restored, and You will THRIVE when rebuilt! Yes it's work to rebuild. Yes it's work to plant new things, but remember you are worth it! You are worth acknowledging the devastation and barren places in your life caused by various painful times or people, AND you are also worth restoring those places and making them strong again... to thrive.... not just survive.
After the plan was made to restore those places needing attention, Nehemiah sought the people needed for the work. He knew if it was left only to him, the job never would be completed. Having the desire to restore is not enough. He knew a team with the same desire as he had to restore Jerusalem was vital. Isn't this true for us? Some of us have endured such pain in this life, having others to be a part of restoring ourselves can also be vital. It's ok. It's ok to need help and trust others who share the same desire as you to bring restoration and planting new inside of you.
Best part for me, this city with all its ruins was rebuilt in 52 days! Yes, everyone working together with God completed the restoration. Even with opposition. (Nehemiah is not a long story in the Old Testament. I encourage you to read the whole story as it is so encouraging and hope filled!) You dear one, will not always be in these places of pain and ruin! You will not need to survive your life story, you will thrive!
You will be restored and rebuilt, into the strong, kindhearted, loving person God says you are! Your garden of thoughts or your city that was laid siege at one time or another is not all you are left with. You do not have to stop here and survive it. Remember the different landscapes you behold with beauty, awe and delight? That's you dear one! You are this beautiful landscape deserving to be rebuilt and restored and planted new! You are worth so much!
Philippians 4:7-8 (TPT): "Then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ. So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always."
When we allow the better work to be done in us, we will thrive and live! Be beautiful gardens that once were bare! Be amazing cities again, who are stronger, healthier, and thriving!