One might say that we live in a time of fear: Fear of the pandemic and its health (physical and mental), social, or economic effects. Fear of civil war (depending on your country). Fear of Fascism/Marxism (depending on which political side you stand in the US). Fear for our children and their education, and for poor choices that they may make in light of some of the lock-downs (increased drug usage and teenage pregnancy).
[I recently learned that the Bible says "Fear not" about 365 times - one for every day of the year!]
As we hear these sobering and overwhelming prayer requests from our DML partners, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. It is easy to even ask, "How do we pray in light of all of this?"
This past week, I felt like God was whispering to me to focus on the solution, and not on the problem. For example, this week we focused our prayer time on Ethiopia and the challenges that are currently there from being on the verge of civil war as well as the pandemic. I could spend all my time consumed with praying against civil war there OR I could continue to "build my wall" like Nehemiah.
After all, I'm not a firefighter. [To be explained shortly.]
In Nehemiah chapter 6, Nehemiah is undergoing some serious intimidation by a few bullies. Several times they called him to come for a "peace" meeting, but he refuses. He has a wall to build. Then they turn up the heat and make it seem like a fire is burning. "Come quick!" they call.
Nehemiah shows a hint of fear and prays for strength.
But then he proceeds to do what he has been called to do. He is not called to put out fires but is called to trust in the Lord and carry on with his calling of rebuilding the wall.
Sometimes I try to be a firefighter when that is not my calling. I get the whiff of smoke and I think I must respond. Someone calls for me to come, and I weigh the effect of not coming, versus the cost of responding.
But being a firefighter takes special skill and training. It is a unique gifting, not for the faint of heart.
I think the message for me this past week was to keep building the wall. Sort through the rubble. Find the usable stuff and put it in. Don't worry about the rumors of fire. Stay focused.
When I remind myself that I'm not a firefighter, it helps me remember my calling.
Then, I got a chance to spend some time with church leaders from Sri Lanka, India, Brazil, and Mexico talking about discipling "the other 95%" of the adult members of our church to be the church every day of the week. And as I get to spend time with them, and I hear their joyful and positive response to this forgotten truth of Genesis 1 and 2, I am reminded that this is my calling. And this work is part of the solution of positive change in the world, as God designed.
I'm not a fire fighter.
Keep your eye on being part of the solution, not stewing over the problems.
If you have a chance, read Nehemiah 6 and be encouraged.