As a child I was fascinated by the pilot of a fighter plane whose plane crashed, leaving him with horrendous injuries, none facial. The outcome was that it gave the creators of the television programme the possibility of making their very own high-tech ‘bionic’, handsome version of Frankenstein, for the princely sum of six million dollars. ‘We can rebuild him,’ was the promise.
In the winter of 2008 I was recovering from a bad church experience as a pastor. To get my head straightened out and also to survive, I took up a post that didn’t require much thinking but was quite physical. Being a store man in a national retailers’ fitted the bill perfectly.
Nevertheless, I struggled with not being in ministry and wondered if the Lord would ever restore me to a position of service to His glory. Not that I was not serving Him in the workplace, in fact, I had some tremendous opportunities to converse with people and share Christ and pray for them, which I would not have otherwise had. But being salt and light in that situation still brought its frustrations. If I am honest, I suppose I found it a humbling experience, but my heart was set on ministry in a full-time capacity, in spite of having been crushed. Like my childhood hero, I had been left with some horrendous injuries, but none that were visible. I needed to be rebuilt.
One crisp morning as I was preparing for the morning’s delivery, I noticed a square of paper that had blown into the alley. There was no other way for it to get there. It was an enclosed space between two buildings with restricted access to the public. Nobody had just dropped it.
I recognised the format because I had used it many times in the past. It was from a calendar that was used by many for evangelisation. As a missionary I had seen it and used it hundreds of times. The words too were familiar: ‘Jesus loves you.’ What I couldn’t get was the text. Being a good Bible student I understood that ‘Jer. 31:3’ stood for a reference to the Book of Jeremiah, about half way through. I knew Jeremiah 29:11 and Jeremiah 33:3, both famous verses; but I couldn’t work out what Jeremiah 31:3 had to do with ‘Jesus loves you’. I promised myself I would look it up when I got home.
Imagine how humbled I felt when I did go home and look it up. ‘This is what the LORD says:
“The people who survive the sword will find favour in the desert; I will come to give rest to Israel.”
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt. O Virgin Israel.”
I felt that the Lord had singled me out and spoken to me very personally. He knew I would read the note because I read everything. He chose the format because I knew it instantly, and He knew I would have to discover how the words fitted into the Scripture reference.
I had survived the sword and found favour (grace) in the desert. The LORD had indeed appeared to us, my wife and myself, in the past. He had been present with us as we served Him and given us many faithful friends and family and brothers and sisters in Christ. The wonderful promise was that He would rebuild us and we would be rebuilt.
At a distance of five years I can say that the LORD has been faithful to His word, and I am now in a much better place mentally and emotionally, and hopefully spiritually. I may not be as handsome as a television personality but I would say the cost of rebuilding me has been priceless. And worth it!
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