April 20, 2016
Have you ever started a building project, a career choice, travel plans, and so on, and then began to doubt your decision? Are your good efforts and intentions being thwarted by rumors, jealousy, or ignorance? The story of Nehemiah’s wall provides guidance and inspiration to support our honest motivation and the decisions we make.
Even though Ezra and Nehemiah are divided into two parts, you can really understand why these books were originally one book. It is like being both “wise as serpents AND harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16). I noticed when I was putting these readings together that it is God who is creating the firmament in Genesis 1, even though we might think we are the ones building a wall of protection based on knowledge we’ve gained from our material education, the news, our experience dealing with different personalities, etc. God has already built the wall of our Holy City, where we already dwell; and until we progress to that understanding, we can be wise as serpents (discerning the Truth and fasting from evil) and harmless as doves (nurturing your nest with ever-soaring and maturing Love). This has been such a practical prayer for me — that God didn’t make man naive or corrupt, and that the Christ and the Comforter give man that discernment through spiritual understanding.
A few years ago, one of my sons called to let me know that he was about to skydive out of an airplane for his 19th birthday. We had been talking about the Holy City in our Time for Thinkers Book Club, so that is where I safely placed him in my thoughts. And he had a wonderful jump — wise as a serpent with all the safety precautions; and harmless as a dove, loving every moment on this new experience without fear.