A few years ago, my husband and I went to Africa for a couple of weeks. We visited South Africa and Zimbabwe, where my husband grew up. I rejoiced to see these beautiful nations, that as a child, I never imagined visiting. I was in my 30's before I saw my first ocean waves, got a passport, or crossed an international border. Going to Africa represented seeing the impossible happen and all I could think about was the potential of the future. My husband was happy to be home, but he couldn't help remembering growing up there. He explained to me how everything used to look and function. It didn't reflect the growth and advancement he had seen so many years ago.
I imagine our emotions were similar to the Jews when they saw the temple rebuilt. The Bible tells us that the old men cried because it didn't reflect its former glory but the young men rejoiced to see a completed temple. Life has a way of highlighting these emotions during times of rebuilding. There are those who long for the way things used to be and those who can rejoice for what they have now. Even within ourselves, we can hold these two tensions. There are times when we mourn because what we are rebuilding doesn't resemble the fullness of the past or it doesn't live up to the vision we've built in our imagination. We mourn adulthood, parenthood, career paths, and relationships that don't hold the glory we dreamed they would.
And at the same time, we rejoice because second chances are not guaranteed. And although the shine is gone, this new work has greater wisdom and efficiency because we know it can be done. What we see as breaks in once seamless walls, we know are scars that replace perfection but provide testimonies. Greater effort replaces what once came easily and we relish it because we now know we need the strength to build and to protect. The pride of the first may be gone but the grace and mercy needed for the second create gratitude that humbles. Reality replaces expectation allowing us to live in the moment. We learn to endure and what it means to recover. And for all this, we can rejoice.
The Jews didn't realize that after they rebuilt the temple, God would rebuild again. I imagine God holding an assembly in heaven to discuss his new blueprint for the next temple. The angels and the saints excitedly wondering how grand the size would be this time. They probably envisioned all the jewels and gems it would take. Then they, no doubt, stood in shock and awe when God unraveled the scroll to reveal the blueprint of humanity. The blueprint of me and you, saying, this will be my best temple yet, my masterpiece.
And God would squash any concerns about our fragility, our instability, our tendency to destroy and give in to temptation with the promise that there would be proof of concept - God himself in Jesus in flesh. So what does that tell us? There's rebuilding in our spiritual DNA. A rebuilding that each time may look less glorious but somehow holds more of the divine nature. As great as stone and wood were, they couldn't carry the spirit as we do. So in the end, heaven rejoiced and is rejoicing every time we rebuild our lives, our ability to trust and love, our courage, our relationships, and our skill sets. If you're starting over, don't worry because we're in the hands of a God who is an experienced rebuilder. Refuse to let the temptation of comparison to ruin your joy.
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