Yesterday, we spent the day in Toronto. This city seems to have everything an urban hub should have (except lack of traffic and a good hockey team!). We visited a friend's studio, had lunch with family 2 blocks from there, and had a date at the end of it all. Both Manon and I were both born in TO and, all things considered, we love this city.
Nehemiah was a wine taster that worked for the Babylonian king well over 2000 years ago. He too felt much the same when it came to his home town of Jerusalem. For him, knowing his city was to know it only with broken down walls as the city sat vulnerable like this for over 140 years. After 140 years, it just blended in.
I was discussing various global issues with a friend about a week ago. We discussed the famine in Ethiopia in 1984 where over 1,000,000 people died from starvation. The conversation went from there to the 800,000 that were killed in the genocide of Rwanda. In Romania in the mid 90's, there were apparently over 4 million abortions in a population of 20 million. At the end of it all, we were both left feeling pretty small in the grand scheme of things. Global tragedies seem to either overwhelm me and make me feel insignificant or, as too often is the case, I am simply indifferent towards them.
I imagine that the residents of Nehemiah's home town also felt either overwhelmed or indifferent towards the broken down walls that surrounded their city. What else prevented them from doing something about it in years that it needed repair? There were generations that were born and who died and all they knew were the walls with holes. Useless defenses.
For me, the fight is either with indifference or the lie of insignificance.
There is little hope in the natural for an indifferent heart.
The overwhelmed heart need only look a little closer at Nehemiah's story and see the Hand at work there. We find that when a seemingly insignificant amount of hope and action is blended together with other like-minded individuals, and the power of the Spirit, change begins to happen.
The people in this story simply worked on the broken section in front of them with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other. They didn't worry about all the other holes. The thought of one person fixing the entire wall themselves would have paralized them. They put their best efforts in on the task at hand and, as each one did that, history was made in record time.
But not without opposition.
Change always attracts criticism and fray.
Famine in Ethiopia. Tsunami's in Asia. Homelessness in Toronto. Global food shortages. Political prisoners of war. Single moms struggling on in loneliness. The list goes on. Its too much on our own.
What part of the wall are you working on with the help of a strong Hand?
With the sword and trowel you've been given, change can happen as you join with others around the vision God had given you. As God asked Moses, "Whats that in your hand?", have a look and see what 'insignificant' thing you have that He might just use.
With our time, talent and treasure, we are to "live creatively" as Eugene Peterson writes in Galatians 6 of the Message...
"Live creatively, friends! Each of you must make a careful assessment of who you are and the work you've been called to and then sink yourselves into that...each of you must do the creative best you can do with your own life."
Creativity, a trowel and the Spirit.
Whats that in your hand?