It has been a while since I last wrote. This was not for a lack of things to say, rather because working out how to say everything in my head was a task too great to muster. Also, because there are only so many times I can bear to repeat that same old tale of the ABCD.
The last couple of months have been particularly hard, and I have drawn myself away from God. This was not a deliberate move, it was more a ‘wedding to plan, furniture to paint, job to do, oh no I am sick‘ kind of business that just shunts him slightly into a place of constant, but silenced companion.
This has led to my being a hopeless friend – before some of you jump to correct me this is something I have felt. It has been a burden I have been carrying. I can’t really talk about it entirely in the past tense, as I still feel it now. However, there is more peace in the idea of putting it down.
I don’t say it for sympathy or praise or comfort. I say it because there is the burden of expectation. This is something I put on myself, of what a ‘friend’ should be. I feel, due to the fact I have been more absent, attempting life as a bit of a recluse, I am letting friends down. Not being available for them, being unaware of their need.
Recent weeks at church have been taking us through Nehemiah (legendary man – well worth more of a mention) and I was struck by the fact that he did not ever cave to the burden of expectation, or the pressure from others. He is a man so confident in God and in the task God has set before him that he goes about his business with an extraordinary strength.
I find my (real or percieved) social laziness, brings about a huge sense of pressure and expectation. I carry it, I cry about it, I wish I could be more how I think I should be. I certainly don’t really think to talk to God about it – I am frightfully busy after all.
Now Nehemiah’s task was not ‘being a good friend’ and in fact I don’t really think the desire to be a better friend and Nehemiah’s story are really comparable situations, as they are so different. What I have enjoyed though is the way he handles pressure and expectation.
The thing I really love about Nehemiah, is that so much of his strength comes from his confidence in God’s faithfulness. I don’t think God’s faithfulness, or anything of God comes into how I take on pressure. It often doesn’t occur to me as relevant. Nehemiah would send up one quick arrow prayer and then respond to those speaking. He didn’t ask God to give him detailed instructions for every step. He didn’t ask God to tell him how to do relationship. He studied God’s word, and he trusted in God to work through him.
For him God was at the centre.
It is so hard to remember to send up an arrow prayer when we are feeling under attack – whether perceived or real. It is often even harder to spend time with God when all is good and peaceful. However, reading Nehemiah, I find that he did not carry the weight of expectation. His enemies expected him to fail, his supporters expected him to succeed, or doubted he could just wished he would. This is the kind of pressure that would cripple most. Yet he didn’t stop. He waited when God said wait, then dived in with the knowledge that God would work and do his thing. There is no more to it.
There is a difference between what Nehemiah faced and my little problem of ‘I wish I was a better friend’ but he has inspired me none the less.