“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept.” Nehemiah 1:4a
Several years ago, I took a new ministry position in a church on the opposite side of town, and I began making a long commute each day. Many days it would take me two hours to get there and another two hours to get home. After doing this for a year, I was ready to move closer to my job, and Jessica and I had to sell our house. If you’ve ever sold a house, you will relate to what happened next. We saw our house. It was the same house we had lived in for years, but now that we were going to sell it, we saw it. It's amazing how someone can live in a home and after a little while, no longer see what needs improving. Suddenly, I saw the landscaping needed some work, one of the boards on the fence needed attaching, the paint needed touching up, the windows cleaned, and a list had to be made to ensure we did everything needed. When we just slowed down, we could see it. Were all of these here before we decided to sell? Yes, but we didn’t see them.
In 586 BC Jerusalem was destroyed and her inhabitants taken as prisoners, forced out of their land and taken to a foreign country. After almost five decades of captivity, the Jewish people began returning to Jerusalem. The Jews quickly settled into the routine of daily life and a century later the brokenness surrounding them had faded from their sight. Brokenness surrounding but unseen. Over a thousand miles away, a Jewish servant to the King of Persia named Nehemiah hears that the walls of Jerusalem are still broken and begins to weep.
Nehemiah can think of nothing else except these broken walls. He thinks about them all day and dreams about them all night. He is allowed to return to Jerusalem and oversee the rebuilding of the broken walls. He faces opposition almost immediately upon arriving in Jerusalem and for the next twelve years, works repairing the walls and restoring the city.
In our daily lives, it is easy not seeing what and who surrounds us even when brokenness surrounds. We share the break room with them, ride elevators with them, sit next to them on a plane or even work in the cubicle next to them. We pass them every day when we drive to work or school, in the grocery store aisles or at Starbucks! Broken, but unseen. These broken people need someone to listen to them, pray with them, care for them, encourage them and help them. Bakersfield First Assembly's new mission addresses this -- “Helping broken people become Spirit-filled followers of Jesus who help broken people.”
"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." (Matthew 9:36) The example Jesus taught was to meet people where they were. He fed them, taught them and healed them. Today we would start by building relationships with people right where they are. Surrounded by the spiritually sick who need healing and the hope of God flowing out of you. They need love. Forgiveness. Mercy. Grace.
My prayer for us is that our eyes would be opened like Nehemiah's and see the brokenness surrounding us. May the Holy Spirit supernaturally speak to us and use us as we come into contact with broken people every single day. He can and will give us the words, courage and desire to build relationships with them right where they are. "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3.