Sweat trickled from his hairline down the side of his determined face and into his beard. The sun was at its peak beating with glaring force on the hard earth, but there was no time to rest. His eyes darted left then right as he pushed another stone in place. He dug into his pocket and read again the ancient newspaper he’d found during his work.
Headline: Aggressors attack. Houses destroyed. City gates burned. City walls demolished. Families separated as young and strong taken for re-education. All is lost.
He shook his head. All is lost: three of the saddest words ever written.
Such words of totality, ‘all’ and ‘lost’. He ran his hand across his brow. What was needed was another word, one of redemption. One man to hope is what was needed: Someone to travel through the night and avoid notice; someone to rally those left behind; someone to assess the damage and the need, to pray to God in heaven for protection against despair from intimidating letters and lies and against the plots of enemies.
He scribbled words underneath the old headline.
We work with weapons by our side, even when we go for water. We sleep a light sleep in our clothes. We live lives of fear. But we work despite our feelings. We work because hard times demand hard work. The Lord does not strengthen confident hands doing what is wrong, but fearful hands doing what is right.
He folded the shred of newspaper and stuffed it between two rocks, pushing and shoving until it was sheltered from weather of every kind. Then he picked up another stone and pushed it into place.
Story prompt: Nehemiah, photo: www.torange.us, creative commons lic. 4