In honor of our thirteenth anniversary, I am taking a commercial break from my posts on Kenya.
For the past couple of months I have been slowly but surely making my way through Kelly Minter's study on Nehemiah. Each entry has been eerily timely. Today's was entitled "Full Circle." In Nehemiah 12 we see him leading the people in celebration through songs and such rejoicing that it could be heard far away (v. 43). What is so remarkable about this is that he is standing in the exact spot that he first inspected when he arrived to survey the devastation. Kelly observes, "God had brought Nehemiah full circle, beginning at one broken gate on the circumference all the way around to the very same gate, only on this day all had been made new."
Thirteen years ago, there were two gates I stood in front of with so much hope and vision. But at the time, they were not all they could be. They were broken and in need of much repair and sanctification. The first gate was our marriage. So much love but also so much baggage. So much growing up to do. Together. We struggled for years because it was worth it. There were days we didn't like each other that much but there was that knitting of souls that kept us from ripping each other apart. I can honestly say each year has been exponentially better than the year before. Today, Matt and I can stand, hand in hand, with our eyes toward the gate, marveling at all the Lord has done--all that He needed to do because we were both in shambles. We are in no way perfect now but grace abounds so much more freely toward each other, and in turn, so much more love.
The other gate was a desire to sing honest, new songs to the Lord from my heart. This was a heavy one. It leaned oppressively on the first gate. It was a good desire the Lord placed in me that I made an ultimate desire (which made it an idol). The Lord was so jealous for my worship that He took His time with this gate. Years and years He pressed, broke, reshaped and set me. For my freedom, for my joy, for His glory alone. I stand gazing at this gate, still with Matt (as he has had a front row seat to this renovation), in awe of what the Lord has done and let me do. Even if I only get to listen to the rough recordings of my first album, it is enough because His grace is enough.
In all of this gate-repairing, I am struck with this thought: the point isn't the gate alone, it's the going through to what's on the other side. These gates have given me an opportunity to see and experience God Himself. To know His being enough in the very deepest places in my heart and soul. To know the narrow gate--Jesus--through whom I have been invited to enjoy forever and ever. That's full circle. That's lasting joy. That's a gate that will never be in disrepair. It will never be demolished.