One of my favorite verses in the bible is found in Isaiah 61:4

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated;
They will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

As a matter of fact it has become one of my life verses.  While this verse was written to the Jews coming out of captivity as a blessing of what was to come, this verse also means something to me and possibly to you too. Because haven’t we all lived in captivity before we met Jesus and some of us even after we knew Him? We serve a God who specializes in rebuilding what is broken and renews all that has been devastated.

We have all experienced brokenness, it comes with the territory of our fallen nature. When sin entered the world the possibilities for heartache, sadness, loneliness and despair became endless. However, God in His infinite love met our despair with one perfect answer – Jesus. Jesus is the one He sent to rebuild all that we had torn apart. Jesus is the one that mends the things broken from long ago.

For a large part of my life I, like many of you, wandered around like pieces of a broken pot. Instead of letting Jesus rebuild me, I decided I would piece myself back together. It didn’t work. It never does. I shaved years off my inward life incapable of living in the present allowing anxiety and depression to loom over me like a dark shadow.

I allowed lies from the enemy to speak shame over me for painful events in my young life. I let bitterness enter my heart and reign in place of forgiveness. I sang of joy but knew of no such thing except circumstantially. I believed it but didn’t really know it. I lived in a perpetual state of fear anticipating that the other shoe was about to drop. I couldn’t rest even though rest was right in front of me. I didn’t know peace even though peace had already found me. My head knew the truth but connecting it to my heart was miles apart.

I just didn’t know it…ya know? I had read every self help book out there and likely would have eaten one had it promised fixing me. I had spent some time on “the couch” sorting out my weirdness a time or two or nine. While those things helped me understand the why – it didn’t heal me. I sunk myself deep into ministry hoping that the doing would fix my being. While there is something beautiful that happens when you pour out to others, I unhealthy turned it into striving. Ministry became a part of my fix instead of allowing the redeeming power of Christ to live in me and break the shackles. By always doing I wasn’t allowing Christ to do what he died for – which is something I could never do. No amount of striving could ever make me right, no amount of chasing could ever make me still, no amount of trying could ever give me rest. Apart from Christ I don’t possess the power to redeem, rebuild, fix or restore. I wasn’t meant to.

Then something supernatural happened, one of my pastors spent some time praying with me and said something so simple and yet profound. “Gina, wow…you must be so exhausted…you were never meant to carry that load…do you see this? It’s not your job, you have to let go and you have to forgive, you can’t do this in your own strength, its only in Christ”.

Can I tell you how freeing that was for me to have someone give me permission not to carry all of my pain, sorrow, regrets, failures, insecurity, bitterness, etc? It isn’t that I didn’t already know this, we all know a whole lot of things that God teaches but it is in the understanding that we are free. The thing is I already had that freedom. I just didn’t access it because I was to busy thinking I could handle it myself. The weight literally dissolved and what emerged in its place was freedom, new breath in my soul. I was weightless and that is when the rebuilding began. Notice the word rebuild, God doesn’t just patch us back together and slap a coat of paint on us. He completely rebuilds us as He sees us – new. Renewed. It’s a continual process as we walk through this life as we allow God to move us, change us, heal us and rebuild us.

All through the Bible we read of story after story of not super Christians but REAL folks with real problems, hang ups, worries, doubts and serious issues either caused by themselves or others or a crockpot of both. God worked through each of those people’s brokenness and failure as they allowed him to. So what about you?

What are those messy places in the recesses of your heart that you pretend aren’t there? What brokenness have you given up on being mended? Where are the areas you are living in captivity just waiting for permission to be rescued?

A life surrendered to the truth of the freedom found in knowing and being known by the master builder gives us new hope to become beautiful masterpieces rebuilt for His glory. It isn’t an overnight thing, He rebuilds layer by layer, piece by piece. It is the gradual process of restorative work that Jesus does as we are ready. If he peeled each layer off all at once it would be to much for us to handle.

It’s in the stretching, the pulling and sometimes tearing down those old dilapidated parts of us that allows for new strong foundations to be built on the one and only cornerstone Jesus…the only firm foundation.