Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Abide in Confidence

During Nehemiah the prophet’s day, the Israelites had been exiled out of Jerusalem since the Babylonian invasion. The weary families returned home to their beloved Jerusalem to find the wall that had once surrounded their city had been torn down. The city had one place where the town fathers gathered to discuss politics and business and that was at the large gate, the main entry into and out of Jerusalem. With their gathering place a shambles, shame covered the city. Other people in other townships started a whisper campaign that made it to their ears—you are ruined and a laughingstock!

We have similar gathering places in our townships here in Lake Norman and most of them have to do with coffee. Starbucks, Legends, and CafĂ© Mia are all centers of conversation, gathering places for meet-ups. I’ve seen many contracts signed at our local coffee shops and heard numerous business transactions made over a latte. Imagine having all of our hubs shut down, cell phones disrupted, or Internet service stopped. That is what it was like for the Israelites the day they returned home and found their hub destroyed.

Cultures create hubs for a reason, but the most important one is to grow confidence in their community. Confidence is a cord that is built through human connectivity. It is built upon trust and affirmation. Without trust and affirmation, confidence is eroded.

There are people who live their lives riddled with anxiety because they have never felt affirmation and therefore have not been allowed to abide in confidence. They play a daily tape in their minds—“You are worthless . . . you haven’t accomplished anything . . . no one could possibly love you.” And on and on play the tapes until the person withdraws in isolation. Like the exiles returning to Jerusalem, these people go to sleep and wake up horrified to know that their emotional walls are a shambles. They believe that their lives are ruined, never to be rebuilt. Jesus who knew ridicule and public shame came to lift up the ruined life and give hope where lives lay in shambles. He is the Rebuilder of our lives.

Nehemiah prayed and fasted for his friends to be restored and look to God for their hope. In spite of public ridicule and naysayers, the wall was rebuilt. In chapter 6, verse 15, we find that the wall was finished in fifty-two days! “When all our enemies heard of it (the new wall) and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence, for they recognized this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.”

There is a Super Power at work in a dysfunctional world, a Re-Builder of Walls and a Restorer of Confidence. His name is Jesus.