God was the one who stirred the hearts of people to work, to persevere and finally to prosper
So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. (Nehemiah 6:15–16)
Completed. Finished. Done.
Have you ever worked on a project wondering when you would be able to say those words? Whatever the length, a deployment can feel like it will never be completed, finished, done. Reintegration sometimes bring us to the question, “Are we finished yet?”
Nehemiah and his team of builders completed the work in record time—fifty-two days. Notice the perspective of Nehemiah, “… this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.” Nehemiah could not attribute the accomplishment to ordinary human effort. The timeframe was impressive, but the timeframe was not the point. God’s work on behalf of the people was the point. God was the one who stirred the hearts of people to work, to persevere and finally to prosper.1
Nehemiah proclaimed that the wall was completed, but he did not mean the work was done. The same goes for family life. Reaching normalcy does not mean you quit. Keep reading in Nehemiah 6 and you will discover that the hostilities toward the returning Jews continued. Rebuilding the wall was not an end in itself, but it was a step toward continued positive reform for the returning nation.
No one has been able to set parameters and time limits for reintegration following deployment. The goal is to get back to a sense of normalcy. It may happen in fifty-two days—or not. The timeframe is not the goal.
Friend, I write these words to encourage you and remind you that we are people in process. We can never say, “We are done,” because we are always facing the next step in the process toward better and stronger. Isn’t that what we want for our relationships—with God, with family members, with ourselves?
How can you relate this quote from Winston Churchill to your family life following deployment? “I have no fear of the future. Let us go forward into its mysteries, let us tear aside the veils that hid it from our eyes, and let us move onward with confidence and courage.” In what areas is God calling you to move onward with confidence and courage?
Prayer for the Journey
Father, help me to celebrate any sign of a return to normalcy for my family. Let me never settle for thinking we are “done,” but keep me moving forward to being better and stronger—always with your help. Amen.
1 Hamilton, Exalting Jesus in Ezra-Nehemiah, 145.