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In our last conversation, I attempted to encourage each of us as a community to cooperate to build a better community. In order to do that, it required us choosing not to dwell on our past, but honestly recognize our present – good and bad – to move forward toward that potential that can all be realized.
I suggest that our corporate economic livelihood depends on it; our increased quality of life depends on it; having a genuine, caring, compassionate, thriving community depends on it. Our future as a community depends on this.
Over the last 11 years serving and almost 10 years living in this community, I have grown to love it, as I am sure many of you do, as well. Moreover, I want to see Coosa County, all of Coosa County and her citizens, and our surrounding and neighboring communities experience the fullness of our potential, which requires us cooperating, together.
I am not naïve, however, to the challenges and challengers to this better community. In scripture, the book of Nehemiah illustrates the challenges and challengers that are often present when communities are seeking to become stronger and more stable. In Nehemiah 2, Nehemiah returns to his homeland Jerusalem, assesses the damage to the walls of the city, and with the donated resources from their current occupiers rallies a remnant group of concerned citizens to rebuild the walls of the city.
This, Nehemiah states, is so that the City of God would “no longer suffer derision” – no longer being a disgrace. The people, with the mind to work, enthusiastically support this endeavor.
Nehemiah 3 records groups of people and individuals who sign up to engage in this building project, normal men and women who take up this monumental task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Even though they are not construction experts, they willingly begin this arduous task, disbursing around the walls to engage in this work.
However, there were not only challenges, but also challengers. That takes us to Nehemiah 4. Jerusalem’s neighbors saw this ragtag group of energized people getting together and doing good, and instead of encouraging them, they were angered by these efforts. Know this, friends: any attempt to fulfill God’s desires will almost always draw opposition.
Warren Wiersbe says, “If you start building, you will soon be battling; so, be prepared.” Have you seen this in our community? Those who are actively interested in opposing forward movement, economic progress, the genuine betterment of our community?
One detractor criticized the workers, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?” (Nehemiah 4:2).
Another criticized the work, “Yes, what they are building – if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!” (Nehemiah 4:3). What’s worse for Nehemiah and company, this opposition started with ridicule and escalated to armed resistance to oppose their work (see Nehemiah 4:7-9).
For those engaged in seeking a better Coosa, know that challenges will be many, and challengers will also be present. However, we cannot be distracted or dismayed; instead, we must stay dedicated to the task at hand.
Nehemiah displays this dedication by taking his project and his opposition to God in prayer. We should always consider prayer, not as a last resort, but as our primary weapon against opposition. Nehemiah prays a fervent prayer concerning his enemies, giving them over to God (Nehemiah 4:4-5). Then, he continues with his work. “So we built the wall” (Nehemiah 4:6a).
If your desired task is truly God-given, it will not be without challenges or challengers; however, it will also have the supernatural support of an all-powerful God.
Here’s my encouragement to you: keep going! Keep building. Keep working. Keep serving. Continue striving to remove the disgrace of the “ruins” that surround us. Your work is not in vain.
Sidlow Baxter remarks, “There is no triumph without trouble. There is no victory without vigilance. There is a cross in the way to every crown that is worth wearing.”
Christopher M. Todd is a Coosa County resident and the pastor of The New Home Missionary Baptist Church near Rockford.