Shoulder to Shoulder The Fight is Real

I didn’t realise life would be such a fight.

I thought life was meant to be like a gentle stroll along a flower strewn pathway, chatting with best friends. Well that’s what I was designed for wasn’t I?

In reality though I am in a fight, and you are too.

We are unfinished creatures– longing, reaching, stretching towards fulfillment. We express these desires for completion in prayer. Eugene Peterson

When I started this journey of inching my way through the book of Nehemiah I believed that I would find some great nuggets of truth to help rebuild myself, and others. Those ‘5 simple tips to a better life’ that would sell like cold lemonade on blistering hot day.

Haven’t found them and I don’t believe I will.

So far this rebuild journey has taught me two of the biggest gold nugget ‘hard to find’ lessons.

  1. It’s a fight
  2. We need to rely on others

Mental Health is …
a battle that must be fought
with the help of others

Probably not what we want to hear. I would prefer ‘It’s an easy stroll and I can do it all on my own’.

At the end of chapter 4 of Nehemiah we read this

Our enemies learned that we knew all about their plan and that God had frustrated it. And we went back to the wall and went to work. From then on half of my young men worked while the other half stood guard with lances, shields, bows, and mail armor. Military officers served as backup for everyone in Judah who was at work rebuilding the wall. The common laborers held a tool in one hand and a spear in the other. Each of the builders had a sword strapped to his side as he worked. I kept the trumpeter at my side to sound the alert.

Then I spoke to the nobles and officials and everyone else: “There’s a lot of work going on and we are spread out all along the wall, separated from each other. When you hear the trumpet call, join us there; our God will fight for us.”

And so we kept working, from first light until the stars came out, half of us holding lances.

I also instructed the people, “Each person and his helper is to stay inside Jerusalem—guards by night and workmen by day.”

We all slept in our clothes—I, my brothers, my workmen, and the guards backing me up. And each one kept his spear in his hand, even when getting water. Nehemiah 4:15-23

So here they were. The rebuild was being continued, but under great threat.

  • Threats were met with the strength of community. Same them, same now.
  • There was formalised structure to this community. It wasn’t haphazard. It was planned and prayed.
  • There was means of communication. A trumpet tweet would strengthen the ranks.
  • There were rallying cries ‘Our God will fight for us’.
  • There was a 24 hr focus on the job at hand.

This was war without relent.

Here is the interesting thing. No where in the Book of Nehemiah is recorded an actual battle of arm to arm attack.

Surprising isn’t it. I wonder if the strength of the community was so overwhelming that the enemies they were fighting didn’t even dare to try and attack.

Here is what I have noticed also about those who rebuild and recover.

They need to do it in places of vulnerable community. I am not talking necessarily about ‘live in’ recovery centres.

What I am talking about is having a few safe others that you can be really honest with. Who will stand next to you, shoulder to shoulder, vulnerable to vulnerable, weak next to weak, honest to honest, soul empty to soul empty.

This is a fight and I need a band of brothers.
This is a fight and I need the solidarity of sisters.

Is this what I want?

Not really. I want to be self contained and hide behind self grown fig leaves.

What does God want?

Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread. D.T. Niles

Hmm, to be just like them. To live in a community of self sacrificial love which is vulnerable to getting its toes stood on in the dance.

This is the challenge for all of us.

Will we be willing to allow a few safe others to look deep into us and we into them. Now that is what I define as church. Do you?

I think as a man I find this opening up incredibly difficult. I think most men do. It means that I am declaring that I haven’t got it all together.

I am thinking of offering a service for fellow struggling men who need some mentoring. Men who want someone to enter their cave with them. Not sure how it will work but if your interested drop me an email.

Quotes to Consider

  • The most important difference between Christianity and all other religions (is) that in Christianity God is not a static thing—not even a person—but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance C. S. Lewis
  • Think of me as a fellow-patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier, could give some advice. C. S. Lewis
  • The greatest need in modern civilization is the development of communities true communities where the heart of God is home, where the humble and wise learn to shepherd those on the path behind them, where trusting strugglers lock arms with others as together they journey on. Larry Crabb

Questions to answer and leave an answer below

  1. What stops people from being deeply open to a few safe others?
  2. Can true recovery/ rebuild/ spiritual formation be done purely by yourself?
  3. What do you think of my definition of God as being like a ‘community of self sacrificial love which is vulnerable to getting its toes stood on in the dance’?

Barry Pearman
Photo Credit: LeBrvn via Compfight cc

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p.s. if your a guy and you’re interested in getting some mentoring, drop me an email.


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