Summary: We can begin dreaming again in spite of tragedies in our life. It is possible to believe that God can restore our losses.
liff and Saltillo UM Churches
September 18, 2005
Dr. Marilyn S. Murphree
“Begin Dreaming Again”
Introduction: Although the Jews completed the temple in 516 B. C., the city walls remained in a shambles for the next 70 years. These walls represented power and protection to the city of Jerusalem. They were needed to protect the temple from attack and to ensure the continuity of worship. Nehemiah found out that the exile survivors who had returned home were in bad shape and living in deplorable conditions. The people were disorganized and didn’t have the leadership needed to begin rebuilding the shattered walls. They probably didn’t even know where to start first of all. And maybe they didn’t even think that it could be done seeing their situation.
1. The problems had existed for a long time: Over 70 years had gone by with the walls in ruins. The people didn’t know what to do about rebuilding them. They were not in the best position to do anything. There were hindrances and barriers to starting such an enormous project. There could have been a lack of finances, but probably more than anything else there were psychological barriers. Maybe they didn’t think they COULD do it, maybe they felt inadequate for the enormous task, maybe they had been so beat down from living in exile all those years that they didn’t even know where to begin. At any rate they didn’t seem to have a VISION or the resources for accomplishing this project which was vital to their homeland security. They were “stuck” in a life of mere existence not one of dreaming about a better life for themselves and their children. They were just barely making it through the weeks.
Could God do anything about such longstanding problems? Probably a lot of the people didn’t feel that He could. Many probably had learned to “live with” or “cope with” the way things were. Many probably said, “I wish I could do something about it, but what can one person do?” Year after year they went on merely surviving but not seeing any positive changes take place.
We might say, “Why didn’t they call in a work crew and get this project started?” Why didn’t they apply for a federal grant? Why didn’t they start dreaming again now that they were safely back home again? Why didn’t they believe that the God who brought them back home again had a plan for their future?
It is easy for us to look back and say, “they should have seen that there was a solution to their problems,” but how many of us today have difficulty seeing a way out of our problems--especially those of long standing. We wonder, “Can God do anything about this? It has existed for such a long time.”
We, too, learn to just cope, to barely survive, and we give up on our dreams. We learn to live among the shattered ruins of our broken down walls. The walls that Nehemiah was concerned about were made of brick or stone or mud, but the walls could represent things of importance in our life that have become shattered--family relationships, finances that have crumbled, health concerns, jobs that have deteriorated, self-destructive habits that have left people unprotected from the ravages of the enemy. They had given up on their dreams of a better future. What dreams have you given up on? You might say, I prayed a long time ago and it didn’t happen. I’m too old now. I can’t do anything about these problems. I just have to “learn to live with it.”
STORY: GRASSHOPPERS DEFEATED
In one of the northern states, for several years everything had been devoured by grasshoppers. The farmers were distressed. Some devout people insisted that if they would meet conditions and pray God could and would deliver. A day of fasting and prayer was called. Some scoffed, saying, "Can God deal with grasshoppers?" The people prayed. The grasshoppers had not yet hatched out but it was almost time and folks knew they would soon appear. After the day of prayer it turned very warm; unusually so. Soon the ground was covered with grasshoppers. They literally covered the earth. Then it turned suddenly cold; very cold. The ground froze hard and every grasshopper died. That year grasshoppers did not trouble them, nor have they done so since that time. Yes, God can manage grasshoppers. By William Moses Tidwell, "Effective Illustrations."
Can God do anything about problems of long standing like these people faced? Can he do anything about your concerns of long standing? Can he do anything about your current problems? Can he help us to believe that with God all things are possible. Can He help ME to dream again?
Scripture tells us:
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).