Looking out my window today I’m pondering the devastating wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The thought of an entire community lost to fire with thousands and thousands of people evacuated is simply mind-boggling. The first thought coming to mind revolves around the evacuation of more than 80 thousand people from one community, let alone other communities around Fort McMurray. The usual four-and-a-half-hour drive from Fort McMurray to Edmonton suddenly took more than 12 hours to complete as the two lane highway heading out of Fort Mac was jammed with traffic full of people fleeing the fire. For others seeking shelter and safety in nearby communities, they suddenly found themselves facing a second evacuation order as the wildfire spread from Fort McMurray to the surrounding communities.
The second thought coming to mind is really in the form of a question – How does one totally rebuild a city? While some will say the entire community is not gone, reality is, even in areas not burned by the fire, other things like power and community infrastructure such as sewers and the like, will require rebuilding. Where does one start in the rebuilding process? According to various news stories, while for the most part the fire has stopped, there are still some hotspots around. It will also be another week or so before residents are allowed to return to their homes and assess damage. In the meantime, politicians, city workers, relief workers and others are on-site making plans as to how to move forward with the rebuilding process. The rebuilding process will not happen overnight. It will take time and it will take many people working together to accomplish all that needs to be done. In the midst of the ruin and devastation, hope will rise and a community will find itself rebuilt.
King Solomon was given the task of establishing a kingdom and also building the temple in Jerusalem following the death of his father King David. How does one accomplish such a feat? One secret is found in the book of Proverbs written by Solomon. In chapter 29 he wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. King Solomon cast the vision before the people, and they in turn built the temple. While David’s dynasty lasted longer than any other that ruled in Jerusalem, after 418 years, the Babylonians eventually took the City of Jerusalem over and exiled the nation of Israel for what ended up being 70 years.
In the midst of the ruins, the Israelite exiles returned to their fallen city 70 years later. They then started the rebuilding process. While progress was made, it took another 70 years for a man by the name of Nehemiah to cast yet another vision to not only rebuild Jerusalem, but also rebuild the walls for protection. In the face of opposition Nehemiah rallied the people to work together with a common vision – rebuild what was lost.
While we’re talking about rebuilding cities, another thought strikes me as I look out my window today. Is it possible to rebuild broken lives in the midst of ruin? David recognized the importance of providing a place for God in the midst of the city. While he did not build the temple, he made preparations for his son Solomon to build the temple. After the exile and when Nehemiah arrived on the scene in Jerusalem, he too recognized the importance of not only rebuilding the walls, but also rebuilding the temple. Even in the midst of the devastation in Fort McMurray, many ministries such as Samaritans Purse recognize the importance for the spiritual aspect of rebuilding as they are sending Chaplains to the area.
But what about personal lives? Is there a way to rebuild in the midst of ruin? The answer is a clear yes when we build on a firm foundation found throughout the message of the Bible. Are you making room for a temple where God can dwell in the centre of your life? He is willing and able to help you rebuild and rekindle hope in the midst of any situation in your life you might be facing.
Looking Out My Window is a regular column in the Northumberland Today newspaper located in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada.