A dear friend gave me a lovely letter and a homemade bookmark with a bead on it from when we were in Nairobi together. She writes things on the bookmark that I need to read—needed then, need now, need repeatedly for the rest of my life.

One of the things is Isaiah 58:11-12.

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.

I feel the feeling of having read these verses again for the first time. Certainly, I’ve read them a hundred times before, but they seem new, perfect, for me even though I know they are for everyone.

I read “sun-scorched” and think of the Middle East. I read “strengthen your frame” and think of my own weaknesses. I read “rebuild the ancient ruins” and think of ISIS’ destruction in Palmyra and Mosul and Homs. I read the titles—“Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings”—and think such names are above me, beyond me, that they suggest a neocolonialist attitude by which I might rebuild a thing in a land not my own.

But then I think: maybe this is the world talking and maybe I am allowed to help others rebuild and restore, for God himself is the master Maker and Builder, and if he gives me orders, who am I to say, “But that’s not my home.”

In the end, every land is God’s land.

Posted by Griffin Paul Jackson

One Comment

  1. YES!!! So much of Isaiah makes so much more sense when you are immersed in the middle eastern culture–we must remember, we in the Christianized west are the newcomers–the essence of Christianity is rooted in the Middle East!


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