"Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble…The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire" Ne 1:1-3.
After my sister Beth died I had a lot of time on my hands in comparison to the time I invested in her last year of life. Her diagnosis to departure was only 11 months but it seemed like so much longer. In the blink of an eye our family’s life went from calm to chaos…individual focus to family focus…peaceful times to the raging war. Then, eleven months later the war came to a screeching halt and we, as soldiers returned to our individual homelands to resume life. I remember the morning after her celebration of life service being extremely disoriented and somewhat lost. I looked around at my life recognizing that the last year had been lived in chaos, with daily survival being the game plan. But the battle was now over and the battleground was peppered with grief…broken down terrain and burned out hope. Hearts had to be rebuilt and new gates of living had to be erected. Faithfully our emotional walls were rebuilt in our family, and gates of gratitude were set forth on hinges as God provided healing in our deepest places. Our city has been built up again in faith and our hope hinges on future reunions.
There are many battles that wage on earth that send us into exile…that situation that forever defines ‘then and now.’ Our exiles are those circumstances that consume our minds and fill up our hearts with emotions that must continuously be nurtured. While we must live within the battles of this world, we must never lose sight that we live in a temporal land. We are only passing through to enter the land of resting places…resting in eternity…resting in the Presence of God…resting in the eternal reunions of our loved ones. Paul reminds us that while we are inhabitants of this world our citizenship belongs to Heaven. Our eyes must be cast upon the eternal, not anchored in the temporal.
‘For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come’ Hebrews 13:14.