“Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked…” – Neh. 4:17-18
This picture has always impressed me. It might be my favorite part of the book of Nehemiah. I won’t retell the whole story but in short God calls Nehemiah away from his job as the cupbearer to the King to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and when he obeys, God rebuilds much more than the wall.—though it wasn’t easy. There was much opposition. Besides the natural challenges of people getting tired or just plain organizing a group toward the same goal, there were those waiting to celebrate his failure or even trying to cause it. So, there was only one solution…carry both bricks AND blades. You construct while you defend…simultaneously.
To me this is such a vivid image of ministry. You are constantly constructing and defending at the same time. It doesn’t matter if you are a pastor, missionary, Sunday-school teacher, small group leader, or just a Christian with a specific task from the Lord, this is true. If you are focused on doing what God wants then there will always be opposition waiting to tear it down and seeking to destroy it. Expect it. Even if your enemy is not visible, you need to count on the fact that a victory for the Lord is a defeat for Satan. It doesn’t even have to do with you. Satan simply does not want God to be glorified in this world and if you (or anyone for that matter) are seeking to do anything that points people to the God of all creation, the Lover of souls, the Redeemer of the lost you will have an adversary. So don’t be surprised—just be ready! Just expect to build with bricks and blades from the start and you’ll be less frustrated. Make room to carry one of each in each hand.
What is the material God wants to use to build up the task ahead of you? What is the weapon you need to ward off the attacks of the enemy? Did you realize that the Scriptures do both? You need not look further than the Word of God because it is the nourishment the grows people spiritually (1 Pet. 2:2) and the sword that defeats our enemy (Eph. 6:17). God has already given you everything you need in His Word. The only hard part is getting to know it. You must choose to make time daily to pour over His Word, to learn the Mind and Heart of God and this is what makes you ready.
This is an non-negotiable fact for any Christian truly following the Lord and that wants to make an actual difference in this life. The Word of God is one of the most powerful things ever given to mankind. It’s use and abuse is proof of that but nevertheless it is the place to start for every single one of us. God calls people from every generation to build and defend for Him. Are you ready to answer that call? Now know where to start. Dig deep into His Word, say yes to his call and don’t look back. You will never regret it.