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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Donít Look Back (04/19/12)

TITLE: New Blueprints
By Helen Curtis


It was early in the evening. Naara's 92 year old legs would not permit her to climb the escarpment to 'her' rock, so this vantage point would have to suffice. She gazed up at the tiny precipice above her, jutting from the side of the small hill.

How she had loved this place as a child. She would rise earlier than most, fulfill her daily obligations enthusiastically and then run the short distance to the lookout. Isolated from the noise of daily life, Naara would sit in silence and gaze upon the magnificent temple of Yahweh. Built by her ancestors, its size and grandeur captivated her senses; she could even smell the spiced incense burning, enticing her spirit to worship.

Naara recalled the first time she had been taken into the outer court to see King Solomon's resplendent temple up close. Magnificent columns of cedar towered to the ceiling; innumerous jewels encrusted the golden furniture and artefacts within its walls, themselves adorned by tapestries of the finest silk thread of the richest colours. Naara had a revelation of God's presence that day; she did not see him physically, but she knew in her spirit that this was indeed the Shekinah dwelling place of God.

A loud bang suddenly interrupted her thoughts and brought Naara back to the present. How her heart sank at the sight before her eyes, reddened from the tears flowing freely down her cheeks; weather-beaten from the time spent exiled and working hard in Babylon. Naara watched the workers pull on the flax ropes, their groans audible even from her distance. The new temple was nearing completion; they'd soon be worshipping and sacrificing to Yahweh once more.

How she had rejoiced when Zerubbabel announced the temple would be rebuilt. It was what her heart had longed for more than anything. . . but this was not what she, nor the others returning with her, had imagined. Where was the splendour, the magnificence of the former temple?! How could this hideous building possibly be acceptable to Yahweh, approved by Him as His habitat among His people?

Overcome, Naara sank to her knees and cried out, "Surely, oh God, you will take one look at this and turn your back on us once again. For seventy long, hard years we've ached for your presence. And now . . ." the sobs spasmed in Naara's throat. As she struggled for breath a gentle hand rested on her back and assisted her to her feet.
"Naara, why do you agonise so?" The prophet Haggai looked upon Naara with eyes that smiled. "I know you are grieving for the former temple, torn down to a pile of rubble so long ago; but I have a word from the Lord - don't look back! This temple may appear to be nothing but I assure you, Yahweh is well pleased. He doesn't require precious metals or gems; of those he has stores enough. Naara, He will fill this temple with His glory, moreso than He filled the first." 1


I was a very intense Christian with a deep love for God. The Church was my life; leading worship, preaching, writing Bible Studies for youth camps and even going to Bible School. Over time I experienced life - pain, rejection, confusing and challenging theology, sadness and depression; all of these things took like sledgehammers to God's inner temple, my soul. Eventually all that remained was a pile of rubble. I still believed in God, but my faith was very mixed up and un-beautiful. Like Naara, I grieved for what I had lost, the Shekinah glory of God within me. My heart ached for the 'old me.'

One day God led me to the book of Haggai and showed me that my faith was like the two temples. My younger, extroverted faith was like Solomon's temple, comfortable and pleasing to the eye; but the faith He was building in me now would be exceedingly more radiant and full of His glory than ever before. The rubble of my faith would form a stronger foundation and bring a deeper indwelling of the Holy Spirit, one based on truth, not on feelings or outward appearances.

Some more years on, can I say I'm fully restored? Not even close. Can I see the beauty of the new temple within me? Not always, but I can finally stop looking back at what was and dare to look at the new blueprints God has for his temple within me.

And it is glorious.

1. Based on Haggai 2:1-9

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This article has been read 654 times
Member Comments
Member Date
annie keys04/26/12
This is a stunning entry. I couldn't help but weep as I read the MC's feelings, her aching heart so well expressed.

Then, when you turned and began to make the comparison to your own brokeness and worship as your path to restoration---I wept.

Well done, on all scores---this is certainly destined to rank high.
Virgil Youngblood 04/26/12
Outstanding. It certainly connected with me.
C D Swanson 04/28/12
This was so beautiful it touched me on so many levels. Thank you.

God BLess~
Margaret Kearley 04/30/12
Ooooh, this is just wonderful. The first half - the very real descriptions of how many must have felt, just touches the heart. The reminder of Haggai's words of God's promise - just wonderful. Then, your own experience drawn from the same truths - this too deeply touches the heart. Thank you for this beautiful writing.
Joe Moreland04/30/12
This is so well written that it's almost hypnotic, especially through the first phase with Naara. Then, when you make the connection to how it applies to life, it's just brilliant. I am amazed at how much you were able to show us within the 750 word limit. Great job!
Donna Wilcher04/30/12
Wow..this floored me! This is a Powerful message. Written very well, and you spoke to the topic perfectly!

Thank you for sharing this personal revelation! God does indeed look on the heart, and not on outward appearances.

Glory to God!

Laura Manley05/01/12
I'm at a loss for words. All I can simply say is
Amanda Brogan05/01/12
You did a marvelous job of capturing the emotions of the older generation upon returning to Israel. How they must have longed for the past!

I felt privileged that you chose to share a bit of your testimony with us, how the book of Haggai and its parallels helped to further your faith in the Master Builder.

I think God wanted me to hear that message today. The past few years it seems that He has been doing a similar thing in my life. My faith is different than when I was a child, and sometimes I almost wish I could go back to the simplicity of that faith. But I'm beginning to see, like God showed you, that it's through the trials and testings that my faith can be rebuilt stronger than it was in the past. It's all a matter of continuing to let Him build.

(P.S. This was one of my favorite parts: ) "The rubble of my faith would form a stronger foundation and bring a deeper indwelling of the Holy Spirit, one based on truth, not on feelings or outward appearances."
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/01/12
How beautiful your interpretation of the Bible story is!
lynn gipson 05/02/12
Excellent! I loved the story about Naara and the temple...wish I could write like that...
Graham Insley05/03/12
I really relate to this story; especially the second part.

in fact, so much so that I'm not even comfortable admitting it as it wakens some new disappointments.

A well written and challenging piece.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/03/12
This is a clever take on the topic and you did a great job bringing it to life for me. Your personal reflections at the end really touched my heart.
Amanda Brogan05/03/12
Congrats!!! So glad this placed. :)
Genia Gilbert05/03/12
Congratulations on this wonderful writing and well deserved EC.