Tuesday, November 17, 2015

So the wall of Jerusalem was completed on the 25th day of the month of Elul.

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant me so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that I may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11

I pretty much imagine my assorted loves ones pleading for His angels to take charge over me every single time I get near my beautiful big bicycle. I have an affinity for gouged-out and busy-traffic streets, and it is not without reason that each and everyone calls out after me, “Be careful!” as they peer upward looking for those angels. Our minds are full of images of golden and white winged guardians with drawn swords standing between His children and jagged oceanside cliffs and roaring lions. And bumpy roads.

And while this is all true, even more so, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12

Sunday Jack taught from Nehemiah 4 and 6, and detailed the physical and emotional manifestations of these wrestling matches. Yes it is true that the battle appears to be against Sanballat the mocker, and Tobiah the Ammonite who said, “What do these Jews think they are building? If even a small fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!”

But we know better. We know who the real enemy is.

And we read how Nehemiah, the wise and faithful and courageous man of God met all of the flaming darts. After the ridicule, he took his anger and humiliation to God in prayer, freely expressing his feelings. It is to be noted, however, that he did not target his anger and humiliation against the mockers themselves. He knew it wasn’t really about them. And him. There was something far bigger at stake.

Today’s Call to Prayer is a call to waiting for His rescue: Love the LORD, all you who worship him; the LORD protects the faithful, but repays to the full those who act haughtily. Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD.

Waiting is an act of worship. Waiting is declaring to our enemies that He is God. He is trustworthy.

Reacting is wrenching control from Him, denying His goodness, an act of haughtiness full of its own consequences.

Jesus said that persecution and insulting is a blessing. Peter tells us to respond with gentleness and respect. John White says when we listen to the enemy, we stop working for the kingdom, but when we continue feeble walking forward, we continue in His service. We need to respond in prayer and work. 

Once ridicule failed, the enemies turned to threats, threats that led to discouragement and hopelessness. The workers became tired. They complained, “There is too much dirt and trash in the way. We cannot continue to build the wall.” They pointed out ten times, “Our enemies are all around us. They are everywhere we turn.”

Nehemiah’s responded with both word and deed; he filled in the low places and encouraged his people, Don’t be afraid. Remember the LORD who is great and awesome. Jack’s face lit up with joy reminding us of Nehemiah’s confident response to his quaking people.

I too need to respond in trust and action. Trust as in the psalmist’s declaration, when anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul. Psalm 94:19.  God is faithful. He who began a good work in will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. God is bigger than my weaknesses.

Yesterday was pretty awful instructionally-wise. I have certainly not stepped into any rhythm beyond neatly writing the day’s objectives on the whiteboard. My low places are myriad. And it is easy to become tired and discouraged and complain. But Nehemiah did not falter. Steadily and wisely he assessed and everyone went back to their job and did their part. I have no idea how the Spanish skits were the high point of so many students’ day when they felt like utter chaos. But like those weary folks with a job to do, so will I continue to work on the wall, from the first light of the morning until the stars came out at night.

The enemies did not relent. They brought out more weapons, those of compromise and intimidation from within. And like Nehemiah, I must continue on. Deceitful attacks need to be met with truth, focus on the primary task, and prayer for strength. Pray for discernment against the schemes of Satan, which are often those of compromise.

And that is where those angels come in. All day yesterday I reminded myself that His angels have been given charge over me in all my ways, in all of my struggles whether they be for wisdom or against fear or in weariness, they are there, with overarching power and strength, to guide and to keep me.

And may my heart take courage, as I join those who wait for the LORD.

And I plea for courage and strength and guidance and provision for all the others who wait, who wait and struggle in circumstances far more threatening and disheartening than anything I will ever imagine.

Dear LORD God Almighty, Be our strong rock, a castle to keep us safe, for you are our crag and our stronghold; for the sake of Your Name, lead us and guide us.

For the sake of Your name.