Rebuilding the Ruins
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
It’s All-Saints Day and I’m thinking about legacies, both the ones we want to keep and the ones we want to let go.
Today in worship we prayed and named in gratitude the names of those who have passed into eternal life with Jesus. My husband called the names of his parents. I remembered my grandmother and my beloved God mother. Then we went home and watched old home movies of my in-laws. My sons, who don’t remember their paternal grandparents, saw them in their everyday lives. They noticed how Grandpa Jim obsessed over mowing the lawn and Granny J loved to direct everything from choirs to plays.
Today is sad for those of us who had legacies we wish we could change. I don’t want my kids to inherit a quick temper, long lasting resentment or inability to set boundaries. I want to leave my kids proud of how they were raised when my name is called on All Saints Day.
But in the midst of all this regret is a wonderful, unexpected blessing and divine calling on my life. Isaiah 58:12 has been the clarity I’ve been looking for all along. The verse is another “How long has that been in the Bible?” moment. God has knighted me - and all of us who inherited a legacy in need of repair - to be healers. We are called to set ourselves and our loved ones on better paths.
We’ve been called to turn the ship around for our descendants, whether spiritual or biological. We are called to start a dynasty of women and men who faithfully and lovingly serve God and others. It’s a life-quest worthy of any epic movie trilogy. We don’t have to spend years trying to decide how God wants us to spend our lives. Whatever else God has planned for us to do, it’s to be a repairer of broken walls, a restorer of streets.
But it’s a long, hard journey. Mercifully, in these same verses God promises to guide us. He takes on the title very literally to be our “Wonderful Counselor.” God sends his Holy Spirit to be the advisor we didn’t get from our own backgrounds. In a strange way, God has given us a wonderful gift. Instead of going to a grandmother or favorite uncle for advice, we get to ask the Creator of the universe how to instill gratitude in our children or how to ask our spouse for forgiveness. That’s counsel you never have to question and always applies to your situation.
There are some other blessings along the way. When God has destined you to rebuild your house and line, you get to choose the building layout. Over the past twenty years, I been able to redesign holiday celebrations, birthday traditions and the values I want to pass on to my kids. My kids will grow up with Friday night dinners in the living room, pie wars at Thanksgiving, and endless talk of ancient myths and legends. All of this would have been foreign to me as a child.
I think this is the first All Saints Day I’ve been able to see past my own mourning to the hidden identity God has given me and all of us with painful inheritances. We were made to be repairers and restorers. We were made to put our families on godly paths. And that’s a quest worthy of a lifetime.
Remember, love God, serve others and take care of yourself.