Five women sitting in a living room, taking turns reading from Nehemiah. We are studying that book because in the rebuilding of a wall God can speak much about rebuilding lives. And in that second chapter, starting right there in that 17th verse, something speaks to me.
‘Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.”’
Disgrace. (It rhymes with shame.)
Nehemiah saw his broken city with broken walls, and women see their broken lives in much the same way. And in the time it took to inhale that 17th verse something grabbed hold and won’t let go.
And I find myself stepping in, in more ways than one. As I sat on that couch in that circle of women, I had no idea that God was searching something out in me. Something that caught my heart by a painful surprise.
Later that night something was said that pulled a trigger and a dam broke open and disgrace spilled out, and I learned that scar tissue won’t hold a wall together because grace is the mortar of God’s rebuilding.
I discovered, as I tried to stop the flow of pain and tears and years of pent-up shame, that the city walls begin to fall into ruin when a little girl is held to a secret as hands go where hands aren’t supposed to go. Shame makes a little girl feel alone and somehow ‘wrong’, and in her attempts to feel ‘right’ again she runs as hard as she can away from her pain, only to discover she has just been running with her pain. Until one day she falls in a heap. Disgraced.
But God. He knew where she would fall and He made sure it was at the feet of Grace.
(Because sometimes the only way out of disgrace is to fall into Grace.)
For days now God has been pulling away scar tissue and putting grace in its place. And for once, I understand His timing. Because the women who are studying Nehemiah are the staff at Grace House. And this is where God has me now, about to step into full-time ministry to women with broken walls. To cities in ruin. And I needed to know that God doesn’t rebuild with scar tissue, but with grace.