Workplace Attire

“Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built.”

Nehemiah 4:17-18

I’m doing a 30-for-30 challenge this month with some members from my church.

We all are endeavoring to walk/run/jog an additional 30 miles outside of our usual activity in order to jumpstart some physical health related goals.

It has been an interesting experiment so far.

The leader of the pack at the moment is a lady who could be my mother. She logs 4 miles every day as consistently as a german clock tower.

During my walk today, the Nehemiah story in the bible came across my Spotify, and a specific passage struck me as a good example of the type of attitude that I should have consistently.

For background – Nehemiah is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work in rebuilding Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. He was governor of Persian Judea under Artaxerxes I of Persia. 

His big project was the rebuilding of the wall even though there were a LOT of powerful people who were arrayed against him in this task.

So much so that in order to ensure success Nehemiah had to command the workers to not only work but also carry a sword while they worked.

This image of workmen who were busy being productive but who also stood at the ready to pull their sword and defend their work struck me as a great metaphor for how we should approach our daily lives.

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I like to think that all of us are in the midst of a great work. We’re building, day by day, a hopefully exciting and meaningful life. Perhaps that structure includes the responsibility of a family, or the pursuit of a great purpose, or even the cultivation of the self-love it takes to take care of yourself.

Regardless of the work that we’re involved in – making sure that we’re engaged in both the work of building and being prepared to defend what we’re building is beyond important.

We must carry both hammer and sword.

While not necessarily literal we must stand ready to defend our great work from internal and external foe.

If you’re building a family – we may have to say no for a season to the distraction of what would otherwise be worthwhile pursuits in order to ensure that our “great work” isn’t given less than what it deserves.

If you are early (or late) in a marriage – you may have to defend your relationship from old habits, old ways of thinking, shifting societal norms, or friend’s and family’s unrequested opinions.

If your learning to love yourself – you might have to delete social media accounts or unfollow the fabulous people who inspire envy, social comparison, or insecurities for a bit until you build the self-confidence and foundation of your self-worth. You may have to avoid celebrity gossip and reality shows that may, in and of themselves, be harmless.

“So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand”

Nehemiah 4:23

One thing I realized was that if I can maintain this attitude and position of readiness – resistance less often knocks me off my course.

Regardless of the work, we shouldn’t be surprised when we encounter those at our gates who are determined to destroy what we’re building.

It was that way in the 5th Century when Nehemiah was building his wall and it is that way today.

I wish you the best in your Building.

fly or fall,

OFO

Stagnant.

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For me, there is no feeling worse than stagnation.

Feeling like I’m not making any progress; like everything i’m doing is ineffective or even worse a waste of time.

Oftentimes when I get into spaces like this, I’m not exactly sure how to shake myself loose. The uncertainty seems to soak down into my pores. My speech becomes halting. My bellowed greetings become mumbled and smiles seem tentative. I start to feel like people can see the insecurities in the furrow of my brow.

In times like these I’m tempted toward extremism. Pushing myself to the limit to see if the pain will awaken me or numbing myself with TV marathons to see if extreme slumber and inactivity will goad me towards normalcy.

Meanwhile all the while I thrash about searching for something to hold on to that will give me something stable to stand upon. Something that will ignite my ambition and refuel my fire.

Usually this is the part of the essay where I reference Jesus. Similarly in my life I try to reference Jesus during these times. Poring over scriptures, listening to gospel, talking to him about my fears.

Something just occurred to me.

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I’m on this fitness journey right? One thing I’ve noticed is that the results of the actions don’t show up at the same time as the action. This is especially the case with food. The past couple of days I ate a lot of gummi bears. Now, nothing really changed in the 30 minutes after I ate except for any hunger I might have had lessened. As a result I ate a couple more gummi bears- enjoying the burst of flavor and the consistency of the fruity candy.

Three days later however, I feel the effects in the heaviness of my body when I try to run at previous paces. The seeds I planted 36 hours ago finally grew their fruit.

Maybe the seeds of these feelings of ineffectiveness were planted many days to weeks ago?

What are the areas where I’m not being obedient to God, and to my best self?

How can I fix those areas of unfaithfulness?

I’ll investigate and report back.

Fly or fall,

OFO