Gut Check Time

Walls are hard to build.  The most famous wall in the world -- the Great Wall of ________ (see, I told you it was famous) -- took 1800 years to build.

A few centuries before Jesus, Nehemiah was a Jew working in exile for the Persian king.  He was a higher-up in the king's court, but he couldn't hide his dismay at the destruction of his home city Jerusalem.  So when he made three audacious requests of the king to return and help, and the king agreed, Nehemiah knew God was behind the idea. But when he arrived and surveyed the destroyed city wall, things were worse than he suspected.  

It was gut check time.  

It's one thing to have a vision ("Let's rebuild Jerusalem!") and then see the reality of the work that vision entails.  And quite another to commit to taking steps to making the vision a reality.  

Nehemiah's question must have been similar to many of ours -- do I have the faith for this task?  The strength?  The mental fortitude?  We may never know if Nehemiah felt that he had those things, but his faith in God's ability was unwavering.  And he was able, like a master leader, to cast that vision to the people and inspire them to see that with God, they could rebuild their identity and flourish once again.  

"Let us start rebuilding."

And guess what happens when God's people say "yes" to God's initiative?  The opposition starts.  Like, immediately.

Where have you been feeling opposition these last six months?  Opposition to your sense of hope in ... lots of things.  Hope in humanity?  In civility?  In the government?  In the Church?  In God?

Where have you been hearing other voices, besides the voice of the Holy Spirit?  Have you been listening?  Where to these voices come from?  The Bible, or the discerning voices of trusted sisters and brothers in the faith?  Or the news, social media, opinionated neighbors, and so on?  

In some ways, the opposition we're facing today is worse than Nehemiah's.  His opposers were human.  But as Paul writes: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12).  These principalities and powers are subtle and convincing, and therefore dangerous.  

The antidote -- listen for God's voice intentionally.  And the first source for God's voice is Scripture.  One idea: read one chapter of Proverbs a day for a month.  There are 31, it works out!  Read and listen.  That's it.   No homework, no writing, no quizzes.  Just dare yourself to read Proverbs and listen for the voice of God.  

Having the resolve to listen to God and not competing voices is challenging.  But remember -- you're not in it alone.  Just as a defensive end isn't competing against the other 11 guys on offense alone.  There's a whole team with him!  

In the same way, we're not alone.  If we say "yes" to our part in Jesus' Body, the Church, then we have limitless strength in each other and of course God himself to resist false voices, to resist the temptation to give up, and instead to lean into this exciting opportunity God has given us to KNOW, EXPERIENCE, AND ENACT THE LOVE OF JESUS in our community.  

But there were many gates in the Jerusalem that needed repair.  And the many people in Jesus' Church are called to particular roles in His work.  But there was only one city.  And there is only one Church.  Resist the tendency to mistake the particular for the whole, and remember that despite different areas of focus in ministry, or worship styles, etc. we are part of one unified effort to heal from this difficult year and continue to be a blessing!

How available are you for this calling?

For opportunities †his Fall, check out PATHWAYS.

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