The common laborers carried on their work
with one hand supporting their load
and one hand holding a weapon.
Nehemiah 4:17b NLT
A couple years ago a dear friend of mine introduced me to a method of goal-setting that produces resiliency; it’s called a Spiritual Resiliency Action Plan. It was the first plan I had ever participated in that incorporated four areas of goal-setting to be used interdependently for the deepest impact. The method has the potential to make huge, lasting life change, but only if you use it correctly. After three years of using it in all the wrong ways, I felt confident that resiliency may already be in my nature. However, it goes by the name “stubbornness.” Over and over again, I found myself loyal to goals I had set, but they had strayed further and further from me. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.
Until I met Nehemiah.
Nehemiah is the next book in the Bible after Ezra and it reads like a detective novel – I actually struggle with stopping to make my study notes about it before moving on to the next chapter! Nehemiah worked for the government in the fortress of Susa as a cup-bearer for the king. His job was to ensure the safety of the food and drink that the king would be served. However, when he got word that the project of rebuilding God’s country was not protected, his heart revealed a calling. He was broken by the vulnerable state of Jerusalem; the wall around it was still in ruins, leaving it in great danger and disgrace. He took a sabbatical from his job and went to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.
The critical difference that I saw was in how Nehemiah responded to the times where things got tough. Eventually, the process got far enough along that surrounding enemies felt threatened and responded with taunting and attempts at war. Each time, Nehemiah’s first response was prayer. Secondly, he equipped his rebuilding teams for resiliency with a brilliant strategy.
The common laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm. (Nehemiah 4:17b-18)
He didn’t fear the challenges that would come, nor would he allow his team to be afraid. He prepared them that trouble would come and God would deliver them. They were to vigilantly continue working with an offense (the task of repairing the wall) and a defense (the weapon at their side).
In this world, there will be trouble. Trouble doesn’t indicate a lack of love from God, it indicates the kind of world I’m living in and the reason I need God! Just like Nehemiah, my heart is mourning a problem in our world that I want to help repair. In the pursuit of answering this calling God placed on my heart, there will be trouble. So, I will respond with courage and resiliency as Nehemiah did:
- One hand on my weapon: I will continue to read and apply the Bible to my life daily with God’s help.
- One hand on my task: I will stubbornly, lovingly rebuild my “wall” one day at a time.
Dear Lord, I am amazed at how you allow us to carry your Holy Spirit and your will within us. I am in awe of how you let me be a part of your plan. Thank you for giving me the desire to rebuild what is broken in your world so that your kingdom may replace the order of this world a little more one day at a time. Let your plan flow unrestricted through my feeble ways. Amen.