READ Nehemiah 4
One hot sunny day (a rare occasion in Northern Ireland), our family packed a lorry load of stuff into our car for a day at the beach. We set ourselves up near the sea, sun umbrellas perfectly angled, wind breakers at the ready, picnic unpacked as the blue skies rolled on for miles. It was idyllic… for about 12 minutes, when the delicate sounds of the sea were smashed with high pitched squeals of two kids who were clearly in some kind of stand off. Eventually I had to admit the children involved were mine, so lifting my sunglasses I investigated the scene. One boy was standing beside a pile of crushed sand that looked like it was once a sandcastle while the other tried to hide signs of both delight and guilt. Poor Kaeden had been working hard to create a series of beautiful castles complete with seashell windows and doors whilst unbeknownst to him his brother had been coming behind stamping them to pieces. It wasn’t his finest moment.
But this comical seaside scene is unfortunately a picture of God’s people. In Nehemiah’s day there were a team of people breaking their backs to build but there were also a group of people doing everything in their power to dismantle. And the same can be said today. In every church there are people working hard to build God’s kingdom, but equally there are those, not outside the walls but inside it, who are set on dismantling. And truth be told we can find ourselves on both sides of the task. We know we are ‘building’ when we are sacrificing for the collective good, when we are expending effort and energy so others can benefit. We know we are ‘breaking’ when we are content to criticize, demean and belittle the work whilst doing nothing to help.
Each of us must learn to recognize when we are building or breaking and refrain from the urge to stamp on everyone else’s sandcastles. God is in the business of building his kingdom not breaking it, and I don’t know about you, but I want to be on His side.
God, show me areas of my life where I am breaking instead of building. Amen.