When I was growing up, my stepdad was a plumber. It wasn’t unusual for him to have to crawl under houses or up into attics to work on someone’s faulty pipes. One time, he was squeezing into a crawl space under a pier and beam foundation when he saw a giant snake. He said it wasn’t a grass snake. It looked more like someone’s pet snake that had gotten loose and was living comfortably under this old house.
Needless to say, he had to fix the plumbing but didn’t trust the snake, so very carefully he held a blow torch in one hand (that he could aim towards the snake occasionally to keep him at a distance) while he worked with his other hand to fix the pipes.
I don’t know if I could’ve done it, but there’s a story in Nehemiah that reminds me of my dad’s bravery.
The walls of Jerusalem were being rebuilt and Israel’s enemies weren’t happy about it. There was threat of attack all the time. The Bible says,
“… with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built …” (Nehemiah 4:17-18 NKJV).
And just like my dad, they got the job done.
Today, we can use this imagery as a pattern of how to navigate our own lives. All of us are living constantly in a world influenced by the original snake— the devil. John said,
“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19 NKJV).
In other words, the enemy is always nearby and we would be foolish to put our weapons down while building for the kingdom of God.
It’s not either/or.
It’s imperative that we understand the importance of putting our hand to the plow so to speak, while also ready with the weapons of our warfare.
And the best weapon any of us can carry is the Word of God.
When the enemy lunges at us unexpectedly, we need to be ready to use our authority and keep him at bay. Too often, Christians either spend all their time warding off the enemy and forget to take ground for God, or they get so focused on the task at hand they forget there’s an enemy who has only one agenda— to kill, steal, and destroy.
At all times we must stay aware.
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16 NKJV).
The New Living Translation says,
“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”
The best way to make the most of our opportunities is to keep our eyes on God while keeping a sword by our side— the sword of the Spirit. This simply means we stay ready and armed at all times. Nehemiah told his nobles to be ready but he also encouraged the people that God would fight for them. The same is true for us. Although we need to stay armed and ready, God doesn’t expect us to fight (or build) alone.
The Holy Spirit is within us. And I promise He has a fire that is greater than any blow torch. When we wield our sword (God’s Word) under the influence of the Spirit, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. And no enemy that can stop the work of God.
So stay armed. Stay ready. Keep your hand to the plow. God is watching over you.
Copyright © May 2021 Daphne Delay, used by permission.