We will arise and build

Monday Musings for December 30, 2019

Good morning, Musers,

Although he’s an Old Testament character, Nehemiah works his way into many a New Testament sermon. Perhaps this is because, in some ways, we are antitypes of Nehemiah: every one of us lives in a foreign land (1 Peter 2:11), and we all have — or should have — at least one project pending for the kingdom (Ephesians 2:10).

Now, our projects are not usually as grand as rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. But what about rebuilding walls in our families and our communities? What about working with the marginalized people in our areas? What about developing programs designed to share the gospel of peace with a lost and dying world? (Ephesians 6:15)... because those sound grand enough to me!

Another parallel we have with the wall-builders is that our projects have their naysayers. Not only is the world hostile to us, but it is also dismissive of us. It asks, how can educated people believe in God in this day and age? And since ours is a world of global communication, God is continually bashed, his morality impugned and his people increasingly marginalized. So, how should we proceed? The trick is to proceed with our projects anyway... and here we have a model in Nehemiah.

Perhaps this is why a line from Home on the Range kept popping into my head this week: “Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word... and the skies are not cloudy all day.”  The connection between clear skies and a lack of discouraging words is well taken. Discouragement brings clouds... and we Christians live with a lot of discouraging words.

This should be our expectation, though... so, hopefully, we’ve adjusted. But there’s an advantage to living under cloudy skies: amidst all that gray, an encouraging word is all the more powerful! As such, we should make it a priority to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11) — and all the more as we see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).

In a recent podcast, William Lane Craig, who is the head of Reasonable Faith Ministries, told a story of his salad days where he was telling his wife Jan that if there were just one person who really believed in him, then he felt that he could do anything. She determined to be that person... and the rest is history. Craig is, in my opinion, Christianity’s greatest living asset. So I’m grateful for Jan’s ministry of encouragement because, through her ministry to him, she ministered to me.

You see, encouragement can make us fly... and discouragement can make us fall... but whichever comes our way, our job is to keep at least one hand on the trowel — and to keep building those walls!

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