In the month of September, our territory was invaded and devastated by two grand hurricanes; Irma and Maria. As a result of this fact, we are yet in a season of brokenness which is expected to last for a few years at the least. There is a vast amount of broken businesses, broken vehicles, broken homes, and broken hearts. Some of the above mentioned are deemed broken beyond repair. Such cases are written off with no hope of restoration.
There are those, however, of radical faith, who would dare to pick up the broken pieces and rally their teams to bring about restoration! Sometimes, our only hope of restoration is to pick up the broken pieces and put them back together again! When the odds are stacked up against us, we must ask ourselves: what does it take to bring a project, a person, or a relationship from ruin to restoration? The autobiography of Nehemiah, the son of Hecaliah, reveals four things it will take to move a project, person, or relationship from ruin to restoration; when the odds are stacked up against you.
From the perspective of the motivator, motivation is “the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something” or “the condition of being eager to act or work” (M.W. Dictionary).
Nehemiah was motivated from above him, within him, and around him! He was motivated from God above. When he wept over the sad news concerning Jerusalem’s desolation and prayed to God, God breathed a plan into his spirit. According to chapter two and verse 12, God placed something in his heart to do at Jerusalem. Those whose hearts are burdened or broken for the territory of the Virgin Islands should pray to God earnestly and trust Him to inspire you with a plan to make a difference or to aid restoration.
Not only was Nehemiah motivated by God above to rally a team to restore Jerusalem, he was also motivated from within his own heart! He was motivated by the deep humiliation he felt due to the devastating condition of Jerusalem. It was a national disgrace for Jerusalem to be in such a condition! Nehemiah was moved to remove Jerusalem’s condition of national reproach (2:17). Humiliation plus compassion will stimulate you to turn vision into action! Compassion is defined as “a feeling of wanting to help; a sympathetic consciousness of other’s distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” Is there any human hurt, social need, or spiritual concern that stimulate in you a desire to heal, supply, or address it? Follow through and do something about it.
Finally, as it relates to motivation, Nehemiah was motivated by what he saw when he toured the desolated city and observed its ruins. Thanks be to God for the people and organizations He has moved to assist us with food, shelter, cleanup, rebuilding, and security. I have often said: the secret of ministry is finding a hurt and healing it; finding a need and supplying it; or finding a void and filling it! Nehemiah said to his fellowmen:”ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come and let us build up the walls of Jerusalem that we be no more a reproach” (2:17). He who was himself motivated by divine inspiration, personal humiliation and compassion, and national observation now serves as the prime motivator for a team of fellow Jews to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Those that accompanied him around the city being motivated responded, “let us rise up and build”(2:18), then they strengthened their hands for the good work.
The Scripture says, “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” The faith that will overcome in these difficult times must be dauntless! Those who intend to move a project, person, or relationship from ruin to restoration must be prepared for their work to be deemed a foolish undertaking. Noah, who was moved of God to build an ark to save people and animals from the impending flood destined to destroy every living thing, was mocked and laughed at; yet he finished the project and enjoyed the last laugh. The renown Bible commentator, the late Matthew Henry, wrote “the reproaches of enemies should rather quicken us to our duty than drive us from it!”
Some of the projects that people will dare to undertake will be bombarded with demoralizing attacks! Such attacks are designed to discourage, or weaken the moral of those seeking to restore that which is ruined or written off. A dauntless faith is that which is “dead to doubt, dumb to discouragement, and blind to impossibilities.”
Sanballat sought to daunt the faith of the Jews rebuilding Jerusalem’s broken walls. Him, his friends, and the Samaritan army officers insulted, mocked, and laughed at Nehemiah and his team. He scoffingly asked, “what does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they are doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a day if they offer enough sacrifices? And look at these charred stones they are pulling out of the rubbish and using again!” Tobiah followed with his demoralizing remark, “if even a fox walked along the top of their wall, it would collapse!”(Neh.4:2-3;L.B)
How do you ensure that your faith is dauntless? You must, first of all, focus on what God has placed in your heart; not on what discouragers are putting in your head. Secondly, you must persistently rely on God through fervent prayer to bring to pass what He has placed in your heart. The Handfuls on Purpose declares, “a working mind should always be accompanied with a praying heart. Those who have no heart to pray will soon have no mind to work.” Nehemiah cried out to God in prayer not allowing Sanballat and Tobiah’s demoralizing remarks to daunt his faith and cause the work to cease. (4:4-5)
To be determined is to have “a strong feeling that you are going to do something and that you will not allow anyone or anything to stop you.”(M.W. Dict.) In spite of heavy opposition and great demoralizing attacks, Nehemiah and his team “had a mind to work” (4:6). They were determined in their will to rebuild the walls and worked diligently until it was done. They labored from the morning’s dawn until the sun set. To move from ruin to restoration requires much more than inspiration; it requires perspiration! The greater the comeback the greater the toil!
As was said in my introduction, sometimes our only hope of restoration is to pick up the broken pieces and put them back together again! Too many people rob themselves of restoration waiting for perfect conditions and new handouts before making a start. It may surprise you to hear that what you need to get on the road to recovery is among the ruins! Nehemiah and his men were not promised tons of new stones fresh from the quarry. They reused fallen stones from the ruins that were still valuable. Author, Tommy Tenny, in his book, God’s Eye View, warns, “Don’t throw away what God is trying to use; even if you believe it amounts to nothing. Nothing is more significant to God than something.” If God Himself reuses broken or damaged material, how dare we not? Some of us would not be in the kingdom today if God throw away the fallen or the broken!
The clay was marred in the hands of the potter; yet he did not throw the clay away. The Scripture says, “he kneaded it into a lump and started again.” My heart sings with the song writer, “I’m so glad he didn’t throw the clay away.” There are a whole lot of written off houses, vehicles, people, and marriages that are still going on today. They have been to the potter’s house and have been made over again! When all seems hopeless, there is still hope. Those who look to God in the midst of their ruins will find hope beyond the scope of human limitation!
There was a little wooded structure in Baugher’s Bay that was blown to pieces and fell flat. Amazingly, within a few days, its inhabitants picked up the pieces and nailed them together again. That house is fully restored. What has fallen apart in your life? Is it your life, your house, your home, your ministry, your business, or your marriage? Whatever it is, you can go from ruin to restoration. Look to God in prayer and start picking up the broken pieces today. God will inspire you, guide you, strengthen you, and aid you in your makeover. Out of your mess God will give you a message; out of your test God will give you a testimony! Trust Him today. Take action and watch God work in your life.
In conclusion, let me encourage you to employ these four keys that will move you from ruin to restoration. First of all, be motivated. Ask God to put a plan in your heart or give you a revolutionary idea. Look within yourself and discern what’s moving you to do something. Look around you and observe; when you do, a desire will burn within you or your inner drives will kick within you.
Secondly, fortify your faith to be dauntless. Be prepared to be opposed, mocked, or criticized. However, let nothing stop you from birthing your desire, fulfilling your dream, or turning your vision to action.
Thirdly, have a made up mind and be prepared to work hard. Be like the basketball or football player who doctors say will never play again due to a career threatening injury. Such a player, because of his love of the game, defy the odds spoken against him by daring to believe he can come back and working hard and diligent to do so. He is later pronounced the comeback player of the year. Your project could very well be the next amazing comeback story!
Fourthly and finally, dig among the ruins of your house, business, ministry, or marriage, pick up the broken pieces and reuse them to move from ruin to restoration.
I truly believe every set back is a set up for a comeback! May God Almighty use all who look to Him in faith to bring the territory of the Virgin Islands and the regions beyond back from ruin to restoration. Glory to God!