During the long days and longer nights of the Parson's recent recovery, there was no time or energy to ponder great truths. There was not even time to bathe in the Word. All was sips from the Stream, quick reads of the Psalter. But mostly it was fragments of Truth that came to mind. These became precious. They encouraged, brief as they were. They continued to break through my thoughts coming at very needful moments.
The two phrases one from Deuteronomy and one from Nehemiah's journal were 'as thy day, so shall thy strength be" and "the joy of the Lord is thy strength."
The word 'strength' has continued to haunt me. It brought me through that wilderness and yet I wanted more. So this morning I dug a bit deeper.
I remembered that the first was part of the blessing given to the tribe of Asher, [Deut. 33.25] and it is a most amazing promise. But Nehemiah has always been a hero so to his account I went. The cupbearer to the King turned engineer/architect was a man who knew about the stress of duty, of Life. And as he wrote his daily story before his God, he spoke often of strength and experienced God's hand in his life enough to become an authority on the subject to my mind anyway. He clearly knew his source, the God of all Strength and with that came the certainty of his faith enabling him to encourage others. [Neh. 1.10]
The Hebrew word here carries with it the idea of binding, the bonding together that makes all firmer and stronger still. "Then I told them the hand of my God which was good upon me..and they said: 'Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for the good work.' [2.18]
Nehemiah, as we too, found difficulties in the way that can deplete strength. It is 'rubbish' as the AV calls it. What constitutes rubbish? Anything that interferes with getting the task done, and I was thinking boulders, . Looking it up in the Hebrew it states it is only "dust, ashes and etc." Seems easy enough to sweep aside, to get through. And yet, isn't is just that, the small things that break our focus and cause us to break stride? To lose heart?
Then Nehemiah encountered the ubiquitous 'they', the naysayers that come along and plot and undermine. At such times I try to remember the line from Amy Charmichael "they say? let them say!"
Good counsel but sometimes hard to employ. Then the workers prayed "Now therefore, O God, strengthen our hands." Again a calling out to God to bind with them and so strengthen them enabling them to finish the job at hand.
It is when the task was completed that the promise "the joy of the Lord is your strength" was given. What came for Nehemiah's wall builders was weeping at the reading of the Law. So came the admonition: "Go your way...for this day is holy to our Lord; and be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold." [8.10 amp.] So often at the end of a task there is the conviction, false or true, that all was not done as well as it might have been. There is often a sudden attack of the What-ifs and If-onlys. When what should take place is merely going on the way in joy.
The last words of this very personal journal written before a very personal Almighty God is as follows, again from the Amplified translation: "O my God, earnestly remember me for good and imprint me on your Heart!"
When all is said and done,when I come out of any wilderness, or to the end of any difficult task I can plead Mercy for the efforts done, feeling confident that I truly am imprinted on my Father's heart who weighs my efforts and lifting them out of the dust and ashes.