Earlier this week I wrote about losing connection and I shared that Nehemiah impacted me on some principles that can apply to my life (our lives) now as a result of some parallels I sensed the Lord was showing me.
When I talked about the biblical story, I noted that Israel had lost connection with God, each other, and their true identity.
They had forgotten who they were and whose they were.
When they returned from exile, we should not miss the significance of the broken down walls of the city that Nehemiah was scouting out.
The walls had been a key source of their success and strength. Now their condition was a source of shame, humiliation, and contempt by all those surrounding them. Additionally, Nehemiah faced a lot of mocking and challenges from adversaries about the condition of the walls as well as his plan to rebuild them.
What is my source of strength? Yours?
Their true strength was now in their hands in the decision to rebuild the walls, but more than that. They needed to look to God Himself to fight for them. Their walls were no longer there. Nehemiah faced no easy task. His consistent prayer as he approached the problem and began to take action was essential.
If you read the whole story, you see that the workers Nehemiah assembled were faced with ridicule, discouragement, wrath, contempt, and a conspiracy to defeat the project. No doubt about it, the enemy did not want this project to go forward.
We can also lose connection just as Israel did. We can become busy, distracted, immersed in our issues, bogged down by our challenges, and trapped in our unhealthy habits. We can start trusting in something or someone other than the Lord. We know things are getting out of control, but fail to notice we are getting lost somewhere along “the yellow brick road”.
Too often when connection gets lost we move farther away from the very connection we need as believers.
The enemy of our hearts uses his best tools. He chooses fear, pride, control, despair, discouragement, shame, and guilt.
You see, we were always designed for community from the very beginning. It mirrors the community in the Godhead. When things are going well for us, we can feel pretty good about connecting with God and each other. We can feel more confident in who we are and whose we are. But when things in our lives begin to wear down and crumble, those enemies can mock us just like those Nehemiah faced.
Quite a variety of things can get us there. Our prayer life gets lost in the mix and the Bible no longer fits into life’s busy schedule or it doesn’t seem to speak hope, life, and truth as it once did. Maybe it even brings reminders of where we are not so it can be easier to set it aside.
We also stop talking and sharing at honest levels with those few closer friends who journey with us.
Connection with others is crucial at such times because it provides us with the gift of accountability
Some of us might say we have a lot of ‘friends’. Others of us may say they have none. What each of us needs is just a very few friends, one or two, with whom we spend enough face-to-face time that we come to know each other at a heart level.
We share at a different level with these few. We don’t talk in the superficial and stay away from religious clichés. These come to know the nuances of our facial expressions, our body language, our tone of voice, and use of words. As a result, they recognize things about us that we may not even be recognizing.
Because they walk with us, love, and accept us, we can be more transparent with them. They can also help keep us humble. They can challenge us by speaking the truth in love.
If we have no such connections or we step away from those we have, we become vulnerable to all the enemy’s devices.
Nehemiah speaks to that as well.
The people had a mind and heart to work to rebuild. He stationed them by clans or groups to do the work and the leaders stood behind those who were rebuilding.
The problem was this. They were too far apart on the wall.
There was too much separation between them. It was giving the enemy too much opportunity.
Yes, my primary connection is with the Lord and He gives me my true sense of identity through His Word, communion with Him, and time in prayer with Him.
But I also need companions for the journey, not many but a few who come to know me well to provide support, encouragement, and accountability.
I am blessed to have some close friends, but in that number there are two with whom I spend more time and share at a different level and there is one who is closest of all that I meet with regularly. She helps keep me honest with myself about my life and my connection with the Lord.
From this connection I experience the keys to maintaining connection:
- Faith to overcome fear
- Humility to overcome pride
- A spirit of unity to overcome disunity
- An attitude of servanthood to overcome the need to control
- Integrity to overcome all manner of corruption
- Light to overcome darkness
- Acceptance to overcome prejudice
- Hope to overcome despair
Romans 5:1-5 ESV
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.