“So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.” Nehemiah 4:6
“The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you heart the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us! So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.” Nehemiah 4:19-21
First, let me say that if there are any mistakes in this blog post…I have switched my blogging platform to WordPress and I have yet to receive my training on how to use it. Between sickness at my house (I know right???) along with sickness at my blog diva’s house, there just hasn’t been a time when we could take an hour together. Since I do most of my writing in the middle of the night, I figured having her walk me through this first post at zero dark thirty would make her my ex blog diva! So let’s muddle through this together.
If you have been a follower of my blog-which by the way turns 5 this year!!!!-you know that chaos is the name of the game in my life. Every new plan, every first step, every start over has led to what some would call epic failures. For me, in the stillness of my office, when everyone is gone to bed and the glow of the computer is all that lights my world, there have been more nights than I want to remember where all I did was weep for what I perceived was the loss of my dream. I have, more often than not, spent more time fighting for what I had decided He wanted me to do than I have actually doing what He wanted me to do. And when things didn’t go as planned I struggled to rejoice in the failures.
When I started this journey of being a christian I knew it would not be easy. If I learned nothing from my years of sin and rebellion, it is that the closer I get to God, the harder the adversary works on me. I have not, for the most part, been one who shakes my fist at God to blame Him for the things that go wrong in my life. I just learned over time that if I didn’t get involved in the messiness that is community, I wouldn’t have to be involved with people who would hurt me, my family included. So if I stayed hidden away or if I didn’t ask Him for direction, I could just muddle along, reading my Bible, doing a little sharing, writing a check to cover the work of those ministries that I didn’t want to get involved in.
But this place called Church Project that has become our home has changed all that. Our pastor has taken a stand that I have rarely seen in my visits to many, MANY other churches. As he so often reminds us, we are not called to warm the pews on Sunday. We are not called to sing a few songs, throw a few dollars on the plate, give 20 minutes of our time (and DON’T GO OVER BECAUSE I HAVE PLACES TO GO, PEOPLE TO SEE, FOOD TO EAT) to hear a sugar coated message and then head out to live the “other life” for the other 6 days of our week. On a regular basis the pastor reminds us that if we aren’t going to become a part of the church, he would rather us find another church.
But the truth is that we are called to get messy, to get our hands dirty in the work of the Lord. We are called to be in community with other believers. To share life with them. To know their hurts, their sorrows, their joys, and the life behind their smiles. We are called to be a part of something bigger than our own living room. We are called to bring people to Christ. To make disciples. To be a living witness to everyone we come in contact with.
Recently, when I was once again broken down by the weight of what goes on in my life, I came to Him in tears. (Sometimes I think He wonders what I would look like if I smiled because I seem to always be weeping when I turn my face to Him.) I laid out my plans to Him, reminding Him (in my arrogance) of the dream that He had put in my heart. “See God? See how well I have planned to do all the things that will make you happy? Why is everything going wrong again? Why can’t I have what you promised me?” The words came tumbling out, mixed with the tears that flowed down my face. “I just don’t understand” I wept, repeating the words over and over again. As if me saying them would make Him change His mind about what He was asking of me.
So here is the truth behind my tears. I would rather do anything but be in community. There. It’s out. Now you know.
Why? Because in my life community was about judgement. About pain. About being trampled by those in a rush to be first in line.
Yet I have come to realize that I never really lived in true community. I kept thinking it’s about others loving me when really it’s about me loving others. It’s as simple as that. God, in His infinite wisdom, has not called me to try to BE loved. He has just called me to love.
We are studying the book of Nehemiah at church. An oft overlooked book where God’s people are working in the harshest of conditions to rebuild what was lost through pride and sin. They must work together, constantly guarding against the enemy, constantly giving all that they have to rebuild God’s Kingdom. They often worked with one hand on the work and the other hand on their sword. Now that is some true opposition! As the pastor was reading chapter 8 (yes we read the Bible word for word at our church) last week, a particular scripture reached deep into my heart.
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Neh 8:10
There it was. In black and white. And being spoken out loud in front of me. As if the pastor could read my mind (doesn’t it always seem like that?), his next words pierced even deeper. “If you don’t know what to do, go back and do the last thing God told you to do.” I wept silently in the darkness of the church.
Why do I always want to tell God what my next step is going to be? He must get so tired of seeing me run ahead only to come crawling back, tired and worn out from running a race when He only wanted me to take one step forward.
God brought you to this specific time and place. “Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you.” 1 Cor 7:17 God will move you forward when He is ready and not a moment before. You may think that you are doing nothing but if you are in God’s will then He is working a mighty something right where you are. He doesn’t say He will leave you where you are forever. But He does say that where He put you right now is right where He wants you to be.
My joy is in Him. He has placed me where He wants me. Only in Him will I find the strength I need to continue.
Where has He placed you and what can you do to build His Kingdom right where you are?
With love and thanks for being along for the journey,