I feel a specific void in the midst of a relaxing summer, on a lazy vacation, and sometimes when I lay in bed NOT exhausted from a good day’s work. I’ve often said when I’m not busy busy busy, I wish I had nothing to do… and when I’ve got nothing to do, I wish I was busy busy busy. My friends can attest to the fact that when I’m taking life easy, I’m usually the most antsy. We end up on hour long phone conversations with the same general consensus: our lives are stuck, complacent, and mundane… yet our hearts are longing, craving, almost SCREAMING to be set on fire by the Lord. We know where we are is safe and blessed, but is there more? Enter Nehemiah.
The story of Nehemiah has rocked my world. This is a story of a man and a people who went to work. It’s a story of faith, dedication, bravery, heart, passion, urgency, prayer, protection, strength, and victory. It’s a story where God’s people went to work with the confidence and conviction that God is who He says He is and that they needed to dedicate themselves to His work.
And you know what? They went to town. Literally. (I love puns) They hit up Jerusalem and said “Hey. This is the Lord’s place. We need to make it strong again. It has to be protected”. They saw the value of protecting what God had rescued. They prayed for it, they fought for it, they went to work for it.
And you know what else? God proved that He is who He says He is. God was with His people every step of the way. Every scary step that was full of hard work and mockery from the outside. He listened to their prayers and He was faithful to provide. He protected them and He blessed their work.
I long to be a woman of God who has the confidence and conviction that God is who He says He is and that I need to dedicate myself to His work. It’s easy to say, and honestly, as the Lord has strengthened my faith year by year, it’s easy for me to believe and desire. But this is the hard part… waiting. I often find myself frustrated as I wait for God to call me to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. My heart is all but about to burst in eagerness to be used by God and for God in big ways. However, in just the same way that I believe that God can and will call me to work in big ways for His Kingdom, I also need to believe that He can and IS calling me to work in a million other ways for His Kingdom TODAY. The latter is harder for me to believe, because it takes looking long and hard at my own life and my own “Jerusalem” that needs to be rebuilt.
We can learn something from Nehemiah and Company. Here is my encouragement to those of you antsy for action, yet stuck in the mundane…
Fight for the small stuff. Rebuilding a wall is big stuff. Not every day are we going to be hammering away in Jerusalem, but that doesn’t mean we should wait around for something extravagant. If we pause, and look within and around us, we will see what needs worked on, strengthened, and rebuilt. Often it is the things we neglect attention and deem insignificant that hold the most weight. Nehemiah encouraged the people by saying, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” (4:14) God can use us anywhere, anytime, anyway. How our lives could be changed if we kept that perspective.
Stop at nothing. I love Nehemiah 4:17. As these men are hard at work, not everyone was pleased. Many people plotted against them to “kill them and cause the work to cease”. Their response was one of faith and dedication. They prayed to the Lord, and they kept on working. (Um okay, #goals) They did not stop, they did not flee, they did not hide. They literally kept working with weapons in hand. Listen to this… “Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon.” Nothing was stopping these people with hearts for God. Earlier in the chapter Nehemiah says, “So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.” (4:6) They got it in their minds what needed to be done, and nothing was going to stop them. How our lives could be changed if we were that dedicated.
Be strong in the Lord. There were plenty of opportunities for fear, excuses, and defeat. Had the Jews not looked to the Lord for their strength and protection, this story could’ve easily had a very different ending. “For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, ‘Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.’ Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands”. (6:9) These people were convinced that God was faithful to hear their prayers, protect them, strengthen them, and give the increase. How our lives could be changed if we were that full of faith.
Await the victory. Victory is ours, who love and honor the King. He’ll win, simply put. So knowing that… take heart and await the victory. Await the victory in the small, every day things, just as much as you await the greatness of His return. Nehemiah and his crew received the blessing of waiting upon the Lord. “So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of E’lul, in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God”. (6:15,16) Worth it. Every time. Find joy in awaiting the victory that’s before you in all things. How our lives could be changed if we were that expectant.
Friends, that was an extremely skimmed over look at the incredible story of Nehemiah. I so encourage you to read the book yourself and be inspired by the men and women who so bravely went to work for their King. Take these truths and write them on the tablet of your heart. What within and around you needs rescued, rebuilt, and rededicated today?
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:58