Today I’m certain to be a stress case preparing for Thanksgiving travels, so I’ve lined up a guest post by my friend Tim. I’ve never met Tim in real life, but we’ve corresponded on each other’s blogs. In fact, I actually “met” Tim when e-mailed me a few months ago with some constructive and encouraging criticism after one of my Her.meneutics articles ran. He often leaves very thoughtful comments on my blog and others, which I greatly appreciate. Tim is a newbie to the blogging world but he certainly has caught on quickly. Make sure you go read his blog when you’re done reading this post.
There’s a pizza joint that may want to change its name to Hurricane Pizza after the service they provided in the midst of Superstorm Sandy. As this article reports, a small pizza restaurant near Grand Central Station stayed open with five employees (when they usually run with a crew of fifteen) and served 1000 pizzas in thirty hours during and following the storm’s onslaught – some pizzas were picked up in the store but these workers actually went out with deliveries too!
I found myself thinking of some other people who worked in treacherous conditions, Nehemiah and his fellow Israelites rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Their enemies were out to get them, and they meant business.
They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”
Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.” (Nehemiah 4:8-9, 11.)
I’ll say that would put an end to it. Killing tends to have a terminal effect. The discouragement from their fellow Jews was not much better – gossipy reports tend to sap the strength of those doing the actual work.
But Nehemiah had a plan. He not only posted guards, but also equipped the workers with tools of war to go along with the tools of work:
From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.
Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!” (Nehemiah 4:16-20.)
Did you notice that last part? Nehemiah told everyone to rely on God. In the face of their enemies – a force that was not becoming more and more exhausted each day with a massive rebuilding project – Nehemiah knew that it was God who would deliver them, fighting for his people. I think Nehemiah knew his history and was mindful of what David, the great warrior king, had written centuries before:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call! (Psalm 20:7-9.)
Our success is in Jesus, and he is the one whose strength carries us through all adversities:
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:57-58.)
Our labor is not in vain, whether in the face of a superstorm or the face of our enemy. And sometimes there’s even pizza.
Tim is a California native who changed his major three times, colleges four times, and took six years to get a Bachelor’s degree in a subject he’s never been called on to use professionally. Married for over 24 years with two kids (one in college and one just graduated, woo-hoo!), his family is constant evidence of God’s abundant blessings in his life. He and his wife live in Northern California. Tim blogs here.