As I pondered this I smiled and thought about the fact that yes indeed we have an enemy, and yes he is strategic in all that he does. However, he can do nothin’ that the Father does not allow. Therefore, if God gives permission for the enemy to do anythin’ He has already determined it is for our good!
Often times we stop and ask is there somethin’ I am doin’ wrong? Is God allowin’ this for correction or discipline? When the answer is “no, I know I am in His will.” Then what? Do we give up? Do we stop movin’ forward? Do we allow bitterness to set in and cause us to doubt God? NO!! No, no, no!! We press on toward our high callin’ in Yeshua (Jesus)!
This mornin’ one of me lads (son by osmosis), Anderson Miles, reminded me of a quote from The Lord of the Rings. It goes like this, I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” This got me to consider what it is we are to do with what seems like an onslaught from the enemy, which has been allowed by our benevolent Creator. As I was seekin’ direction and understandin’ for all that happenin’ here and what we are to do with the time that has been given to us, the Holy Spirit directed me to Nehemiah and the battle to rebuild the wall.
Wow…I have read the book of Nehemiah before, today however it literally seemed to jump off the pages at me. So, here is what is happenin’. Nehemiah gets word that there is a remnant of people tryin’ to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. They are broken because of their past idolatry and have returned home from their captivity. Nehemiah is given word that the city is in flames and they are strugglin’ to rebuild. He goes before the king and asks to be allowed to go and help rebuild. He gives the king a time frame in which the buildin’ will be finished. At this point, his enemies hear of his plan and decided they are goin’ to stop Nehemiah and the people from accomplishin’ their goal. Multiple times the enemy puts up road blocks to stop and discourage the people. In chapter 4 verse 10 it says, “…the strength of the burden bearers is weakening, and there is so much rubbish that we are unable to build the wall.” A few verses later it says that ten times they report to Nehemiah that, “…from whatever place you turn, they are (the enemies) against us.” They were ready to give up.
What does this mighty man of God do? He set the people with their swords, spears, and their bows. He prepared them for battle. He didn’t even entertain the possibility of not buildin’ the wall. He told the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the great and awesome YHWH, and fight for your brothers, your sons, and your daughters, your wives and your houses.” Then it goes on to say that when the enemy heard that it was known to them, that God had brought their counsel to nothin’, that all of the people returned to the wall and everyone to his work. In verses 16 - 18 of chapter four it says that from that time on half of the people were workin’ while the other half were holdin’ their spears and keepin’ the watch to be ready for the enemy. It says that even the builders had their swords at their sides as they built.
Then in verses 19 -20 – this is what really got me – it says, “...the work is great and large, and we are separated from from one another on the wall. In whatever place you hear the voice of the shophar, join us there. Our God fights for us!” This was such an overwhelmin’ thing for me to read. Now you might be sayin’ “Caoimhe why was that such an impactful thing”. Well, here is the deal, in every single Shabbat service we hold here at the monastery, the “voice of the Shophar” is heard, and as I read this passage I was reminded yet again, “our God fights for us!!” He simply asks for us to be at the ready and to do what He directs. We are in a battle, and yes we have enemies on all sides.
Three years ago, I stood in the town council meetin’ and had to respond to the questions “how will you pay for this building if you have no loan or insurance money?” and “how will you get this thing built if you have no real labourers to help you build?” My response was, “God!” I of course had to explain that He had never to this point let us down and I couldn’t see why He would start now. Further, I explained that every need we have had since startin’ this ministry He has met and then some. They shook their heads, some thinkin’ that surely we had lost our minds, some secretly prayin’ and hopin’ that God would come through and prove Himself on our behalf. I believe somethin’ happened that day, a line was drawn in the sand and the enemy was put on high alert. God will get the glory for this ministry and for the buildin’ of this place, of course just like Nehemiah’s enemies he finds it to be troublesome and wants to stop the progress. We have been mocked, we have been ridiculed, wrongly accused, we have had roadblocks put in our way. Yet we have trusted our God and He fights for us.
We need all who will also stand and fight with us against the enemy. We are so grateful for those prayer warriors who stand with us on a daily basis, who do not put down their swords, who are ready to fight at a moments notice. We recognise that our battle is not with flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in high places, and we know that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Therefore, we press on, we fight for what God has called us to, and we do not give up no matter how difficult the battle, and we cry out for help when we are overwhelmed and the burdens are to great.
It has taken three years to get the place we are right now. God has met every need and I know He will continue. This leads me full circle back around to how responded to my sweet student this mornin’ when she showed her humanity in askin’, without really askin’, “why this is happenin’” – my answer was “I believe God is allowin’ this so that others will step up (this is not just about Clint and I) and so we will cry out all the more!” And like Nehemiah we will build, day by day, encouragin’ one another, knowin’ that God will be exalted in this place and He will get the glory for everythin’ that is done. Like those rebuildin’ the wall, we have a heart to work and to please our Heavenly Father, and we will not give up or lay down our weapons. We will fight the good fight. Like David in Psalm 26, we will walk in integrity and will trust YHWH without waverin’. He examines us and proves us every day and He will vindicate us and we will raise a voice of thanksgivin’ in the assembly declarin’ all His wondrous works.
I close with Psalm 27:1-6
“YHWH is my light and my deliverance; whom should I fear? YHWH is the refuge of my life; whom should I dread? When evil-doers come against me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they shall stumble and fall. Thought an army encamps against me, my heart does not fear; though battle come up against me, even then I would be trusting. One matter I ask of YHWH – this I seek: to dwell in the House of YHWH all the days of my life, to see the pleasantness of YHWH and to inquire in His temple. For in the day of evil He hides me in His tabernacle; in the covering of His Tent He hides me; On a rock He raises me up. And now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me; and I sacrifice with battle cry of joy, I sing, yes, I sing praises to YHWH.
God is not finished with us or with this place. Please continue to fight with us as we press on with praise on our lips and joy in our hearts to be counted worthy to serve Him in this amazin’ ministry He has called us to!