“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.” – Vance Havner
Can you imagine walking through thick woods and stumbling upon the house pictured above? You could tell at one point it might have been a grand home, but those days are long gone. As the house creaked in the wind, your first impulse might be to run. But let’s say you are brave (or crazy) and decide to take a closer look. The fence is standing in a few places and looks more like an animal pen than the entrance to a home. At some point someone had haphazardly cut down trees and plowed up the beautiful lawn to plant crops that are now only dried brush. As curiosity gets the best of you, you moved toward the house to peer into the broken windows. You soon see the front door is missing a hinge and is open. Inside you see the remains of grain bags and straw throughout a grand ballroom. Your heart leaps as chickens run past you to get out the door. Your eyes look past ornate stairs to see holes in the rotting roof. The greatest amount of the furnishings is long gone, giving the home an empty feeling. The walls are covered in names of others who were brave enough to step onto the creaky floors. From underneath the home you hear the low “moo” of cattle. You soon find an outdoor entrance that has turned a bottom floor into a stable. My question to you is what would you do if this house were given to you ? Maybe your answer would be to bring bulldozers in to tear everything down and start from scratch? Or would you choose the easiest solution and just walk away and leave the dilapidated home abandoned? Would you be willing to put the sweat and finances needed into restoring this home to the luxurious state it once had known? This choice would truly require a great labor of love.
Nehemiah understood a labor of love. He had been in captivity so long that his distant home seemed only memory. He often thought of Jerusalem’s temple, lush gardens and towering wall. What a shock it had to be when he was given the opportunity to talk to a fellow Jew that had just returned from Jerusalem. Nehemiah said, “I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, …and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity … are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.” “ And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned and prayed before the God of heaven”. “ And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven… Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night…”. Nehemiah wanted the job of restoring the broken walls of Jerusalem. It would be his God given labor of love. Big restorations can never be accomplished without a tremendous labor of love.
Nothing about me was beautiful. My heart was in a tangle of weeds and my mind was filled with the filth that the leaking roof had allowed to pile inside me. The wind blew through my soul whistling through the emptiness of my life. No one thought I was worth the effort to rebuild the brokenness in me. Others walked past me and walked away shaking their heads. It would take a true labor of love.
That is when the nail print hands began to remove the dirt and redeem my life. For Jesus saw me not as I was, but as what I could be, through His labor of love.
And the abandoned house in the woods? A labor of love has made it what the designer and original builder intended. A place of glory!