Ezra and Nehemiah have been my chums this summer. God has taught me many things through their accounts in the Old Testament, and I'm not ready to leave this week's lesson. I have to dwell on it a little longer.
Our God fights for us.
Nehemiah leads God's people to build a wall around Jerusalem, and time and time again they are faced with opposition to their work. To encourage them, Nehemiah tells them "Our God will fight for us!" (Nehemiah 4:20) Then he tells them to equip themselves with swords and keep on keeping on. They continue to build, through taunts and confusion and threats, knowing God is the one really fighting. He's got their back, but they gear up for the battle anyway.
I've been chewing on this paradox all week. Why do we arm ourselves if God fights for us?
Exodus 14:14 "The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still." Other translations write it, "You need only be silent." Many stories echo the same phrasing through Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Joshua, even as they go into battle.
Here is what I'm learning. Stillness does not mean inaction. Stillness and silence mean a heart posture of deep trust in a God who fights, and indeed fought for us, even to death on a cross! I think stillness means trust, courage, faith, BOLDNESS that the battle is won before it is begun, because Jesus said "It is finished."
And He meant it.
So now, every battle is an opportunity to show the work already done for us on the cross.
And we do that by clinging to our swords, the Word of God. As God's hand is upon us, our hand is on our sword. We now get the joy of showcasing a battle already won. God gave us our swords for protection against the true enemy of evil, and!!! These swords allow us to build gospel moments under its protection.
And!!! We build gospel moments boldly, because we know who God is. He is faithful. He is a God who fights for us, and offers us a living hope that does not fade or crumble, long after what God is calling us to build crumbles. We do not hope in fickle outcomes. We hope in Christ, and Christ alone. Our Savior who does not change.
If God loved me enough to send his Son to claim victory over death for me, then all other battles seem so much smaller by comparison. And God strengthens my hands for His work, the only battle that is truly worth fighting.
"The things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."
So, arming myself with the sword and swelling with courage in a God who fights for us, I'm asking God "what next?" Here I am! Send me!
Another kiddo to love and raise to know your truth? YES. Is it more teaching, more speaking and writing truth to women who desperately need it? YES. Is it leading our house church to come alongside recovering addicts in our city? YES.
Oh God, what vigor and joy you give me in your salvation! There is nothing sweeter than building for a God who fights for me, to point to a victory long ago won.