I’m in an ongoing battle with Eeyore, glass half-full, Puddleglum tendencies, inherent in my nature. We creatives feel all the “feels,” too much of the time. I can be Bob the Builder when I don’t feel like life is smacking me around. When I feel kicked to the curb, my Wreck-It Ralph side emerges. My stomach hurts as if I’ve been punched, and my shoulders want to invade my ear space. In these moments, I discover how much sanctification I’ve allowed God to work in me by what loops through my mind and comes out my mouth.
When the normal junk of life happens my inner Bob and Ralph are at war. Paul, the Apostle, calls it the old nature and the new nature. For me, it’s a day by day, sometimes minute by minute choice, which voice I’ll listen to and which one I ignore.
If someone sins against me Ralph says,
“Well, that was rotten. What a crummy thing to do (say) I’m so sick of……. They always… etc. etc.”
Meanwhile, my Bob, trying to be heard over the din, says,
“God, I’m hurting, and I don’t want to sin. I need your help to heal, forgive, release and make peace. Help me, please help me. “
The sorrows of this earth roll through every life in some fashion and that also creates an argument between my inner Ralph and Bob. Ralph says,
“Why is this happening to me? I’ve been so faithful to God, and this is what I get in return? What’s the point of it all? Does God even hear my prayers? I don’t feel like reading the Bible right now.”
Bob, on the other hand, remembers all the Truth deposits God’s placed inside and tries to bring those to my conscious mind.
“Remember, Jesus said we experience lots of trouble in this world, but that he overcame the world? And read Job again and remember that during troubles, God is still God and his hand is good towards you. Isaiah said Jesus carries us like sheep and when we go through fires, they won’t burn us and when we go through deep waters, they won’t drown us.”
Today, in my series of “Hidden Heroes,” let’s talk about Nehemiah, the original Bob the Builder. As a captive Israelite, living in Persia, Nehemiah wasn’t “livin’ the dream.” He served as a cup bearer, which meant any poison intended for the king ended up in his body first. That pretty much eclipses any workplace issues with which I’ve ever contended. As a layperson, not a prophet or priest, he seems like an interesting choice to lead the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. In fact, nothing suggests Nehemiah possessed any construction skills at all. Why did God choose him?
Take half an hour to read through this fascinating story. You will see a consistent speech pattern that emerges from Nehemiah and a constancy in the blather and schemes that came from his opponents. Here’s a few samples:
“Remember the Lord, great and awesome.” Neh. 4:14
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Neh:10
“The God of heaven will give us success.” Neh. 2:2
“Our God will fight for us.” Neh. 4:20
Sanballat and Tobiah:
“What are those feeble Jews doing?” Neh. 4:2
“What they are building, if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” Neh. 4:3
(Nehemiah speaking) “They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work and it will not be completed.” Neh. 6:7
The job of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall involved grueling labor under harsh conditions with the original Wreck-It Ralphs, Sanballat and Tobiah, opposing the workers and Nehemiah at every turn. Nehemiah stayed positive and kept on doing what God led him to do, confident in God’s provision and strength.
Every moment of every day, we are presented with numerous choices to build up situations and people with our words or tear them down. What we say can either be the seeds for miracles and breakthroughs, like Nehemiah and his workers experienced, or simply another voice in the cacophony of negativity that resonates in our culture and even in the church, to a degree. Cynical, gloomy words do not line up with God’s values and missions.
We are children of THE LIGHT, and our words should reflect that truth. Our speech can bring brightness into dark situations, peace where there is strife, hope where there is despair. Even correction and truth can be spoken, like Nehemiah did, without sacrificing grace and truth.
I challenge us to listen to what’s parading through our brains and rolling off our tongues to see if we sound more like Bob, or Ralph. Let’s not squirrel up the great plans God’s designed for us with unharnessed tongues.