It’s been a long hard slog but finally you’ve got there. What they said couldn’t be done, had been done. The end result was testament to team effort, hard slog and a community spirit like no other, driven by the understanding that this was God’s work.
But, it’s not over until it’s really over. Throughout the 52 days it had taken to complete the work, everyone must have been longing for the day when the last brick had been laid and the last door hung on its new hinges.
One very important thing remained to do: it was vital that they committed the future to God, just as they had committed to the rebuilding of their city. In fact, they had come to realise that they were not just rebuilding their city, they were refashioning faith, community and relationships at the same time.
Laying new foundations
Some 2500 years ago a small but determined group of people, directed by an inspirational leader, laid the foundations of a new society. In the physical act of building they recognised the spiritual dimensions of a true community - teamwork, valuing others, common goals. They went further still: they knew where God had been involved and how they wanted Him to continue to be so in the future
I’m not equating the challenges we face today with Nehemiah’s experience all those years ago but I do see some close parallels. To overcome Covid 19 (or at least contain it), we will have to work together and have a consistent plan which is flexible enough to be adapted at a moment’s notice. There will be great weariness and we may feel part way through our isolation that we want to give up because we can’t take any more of it. There will be the same fake news and, sadly, there will also be the same people who are only interested in pursuing their own ends.
I wonder how we see our future post Covid 19? Do we expect to return to how we were before 20th March? Will the suspended animation that passes for life at the moment move into gear again where we’ll just pick up where we left off?
I’m not sure what the answer is or will be – although I’m convinced that we have all changed in just a few weeks and may be unwilling to return (without question), to a way of living as it used to be. Like the people in Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s time, we have all learned a lot about ourselves and may indeed be thinking deeply about spiritual matters in a way we haven’t done before.
On 1st January, Christine wrote the following words in her diary: Whatever happens this year, keep your joy. The bible verse she was thinking about at the time comes straight from our story of Nehemiah:
The joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10)
The work – for them - is over and the celebration has begun. Yet the focus on God remains as powerful and as evident as ever.
Whatever the days ahead and however the future turns out, let’s remember and let’s commit to keeping God at the centre. Let’s not neglect nor overlook what we’ve learned but let’s celebrate that God is with and will guide us as we (re)build our lives and church community. Knowing God’s joy is only possible when we take on God’s heart, living as He intends – let’s do all that we can today to be like Christ, that we may build a brighter tomorrow and live a today blessing others as we are blessed.