Jeremiah 1:1-10, vs. 9-10: “Then the Lord put out His hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, ‘Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.’”
FIXER UPPER was a popular HGTV show that detailed how a couple transformed dilapidated but potential-rich houses into showplaces that also helped revitalize entire neighborhoods throughout central Texas. An aspect of the team’s work was to help the clients see a structure’s beauty beyond its blemishes. The couple and the collaborators saved homes that looked hopeless, renovating the imperfect and revealing the house’s splendor and character.
A thorough inspection was required to unearth the hidden treasure. Every aspect of the building was evaluated for further usefulness. Any rotten boards, faulty wiring, outdated plumbing, and less than contemporary features were gutted and replaced with durable materials, making the finished product more appealing to the owner. Homes that had been abandoned or robbed of proper care and maintenance were particularly challenging to restore. They demanded additional investments of time, resources, and attention to reestablish the home’s value. Such is God’s move among His people throughout generations.
God sent Jeremiah to warn Judah before the seeds of their actions bore fruit. No matter how diligent the prophet was, the people refused to hear and heed the message. His words fell like “pearls before swine,” a waste of his time. And as a devoted parent of a hard-headed and rebellious child, the Lord “gave them the desires of their heart,” turning them over to their thoughts, saying, “Go ahead, have your way!” (Jeremiah 44:25)
The prophet’s task was daunting, yet supported by the necessary means for fulfillment. Jeremiah was commissioned “to pluck up, to tear down, to destroy, to overthrow.” The assignment
required applying God’s truth in every situation. This timeless word is for us as well.
My heart remains burdened and unsettled about the events of January 6th, when The People’s House was ravaged, and shouts of murder rang out in its halls. Whether or not one agrees with the prior administration’s policies and practices, plotting to kill elected officials and causing a protector’s death is entirely unacceptable. Decency is nonnegotiable. The actions and words of rioters were neither religious nor patriotic!
“To pluck up and to pull down; to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” Our national house has some faulty construction and needs remodeling. When democracy’s covering was peeled back, rat-gnawed wires were found with gnarled fibers consistently delivering insufficient or irregular current. Rusted pipes of privilege and supremacy carried contaminated water to the thirsty household. The foundation was uneven, causing the house to lean with the changing winds of destructive influence. Like the clients and the Fixer Upper team, structural damage was discovered upon closer inspection of the future dream house. Even with the home’s apparent flaws, the new homeowners and the Fixer Upper team were hopeful and excited by its potential.
The nonviolent protests of 2020 were efforts to draw attention to systemic racism, discriminatory practices, thoughts of superiority, and misguided actions that highlight bias. Remember, destruction precedes construction following a close, thorough, and honest appraisal. For the sake of His character, God would not leave His children in a state of brokenness and revealed His plan for restoration and growth. God would cause them to flourish again! God also gave Jeremiah instruction, “build and plant.” Like Jeremiah, God invites us and equips us with the indispensable tools to build a substantial house supporting our families, communities, our nation, and the world.
Even as the owners and the Fixer Upper team completed their construction, the finishing touch was the landscaping. The plants added color and visual texture to the property. The flowers, shrubbery, grass, and trees communicated a sense of belonging to the community.
We are concerned with the construction of our national house. We want it to be stable, function properly, and open to persons who can disagree without becoming hateful or inciting violence.
We can work together in peace with justice and accountability to refit the house and reflect our common values. Amanda Gorman reminds us: “Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.”
God offers us the opportunity to inspect our dwellings. In this season, what is God calling us to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow within our hearts? What are we asked to build and to plant? As we move forward in God, we have so much work to do. Be well assured. God has equipped and empowered each of us for the meaningful, multifaceted work of building! We are under construction! Amen.
Stay prayerful and careful!
Natalie V. McLean ’80