Nehemiah's Will to Build the Wall
“The environment you create and the people you constantly surround yourself with will have an impact on how you view success, failure and hard work.”
How little does it take for us to get distracted or even shrink, self consciously from what God has asked us to do? There’s the obvious: text messages, a show, the weather, a sale at our favorite store. But how often do we get led away from what God is calling us to do and right into the middle of a problem not meant for us? Shamefully, this has me all over it. Maybe you too.
I was struck by something in Nehemiah that may be super obvious to you, or maybe I missed the point completely and got side tracked by the tidbit that I noticed. Regardless, I really love what I picked up here and thought it was a good lesson for me and possibly for you.
You will have to read Nehemiah starting at chapter 4. But the skinny: here he is building a huge wall around Jerusalem because it is what God wanted. Nehemiah starts getting threatened by his conspirators, so what do his guys helping him build the wall do? Wield weapons with one hand and continue on from sun up to sun down. That’s some Focus. That’s some spiritual warfare right there. Do we do this too? Do we ask God to bind up all distractions? Do we put ourselves in a position surrounded by friends with weapons of spiritual warfare so that we can get the job done? Modern day, no, I suppose we can’t ask our buds if they can stand at the office door to keep so-and-so from coming in with a silly request. But maybe you ask your friends to pray away the distraction or strengthen your will to furtively finish the thing despite having to work through the tough stuff, in this case, threats of serious violence.
Moving along to Neh 6:9 “But now, O God, strengthen my hands.” I’m totally remembering this one. Do we approach the thing God wants us to do this way? Because sometimes it can get hard. Sometimes you think the stars are all stacked up against you. Sometimes, if you’re focused on all that has gone wrong, it seems best to give up. But if we choose stories like Nehemiah and repeat what he did, maybe we can also finish our wall in a record 52 days. I’m getting slightly ahead of myself, let me go on, so in the middle of building this wall, Nehemiah’s conspirators approach him not once but five times to chat with them about the building and finishing of this wall. Each time Nehemiah said no, but on the last time, when a dude is there with an opened letter full of lies and direct threats about Nehemiah’s life, in fact, this messenger guy who I’m sure I should know more about, said they will kill him by night. Did that mean, TO-night? I’m sure somebody much smarter could tell us, but this is not my point. If someone be-making-threats-I-be-running. ”Should such a man as I run away?…” Neh 6:11
Now. Put your name in that sentence. Should such a woman as Courtney run away? Who is such a woman? A woman God made with a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. A woman who can do hard things and rejoices in them. A woman with a wonderful husband and three children that support and cheer her on, what else do I need? What else do you need? Nobody is literally standing at our door with letters about killing us, so why do we let small distractions get in the way of building our wall? Or fear? Or self-doubt? Or, or, or, or. All of it.
Quick full circle here, I wanted to go to London with my girls. You know this, I blew up social media for a week about it. What fun we had. But, ya’ll, getting there was absolutely hell. We missed our flight to London from New York (because of Delta), our friend invited to go with us broke her hand and flew home, we were stuck at JFK with no hotel or no flights along with about 3,000 others. The following day, we still couldn’t get out of JFK unless we took the last three seats on the London flight at 11pm. Our choices were: stay in NYC an extra day and find our way home because we were tired, dirty and not very confident our trip-of-a-lifetime would live up to its expectations … or, go. Keep building the wall despite all that was thrown our way. I, of course, was ready to go home. Nobody would have blamed me, it had been an exhausting ordeal already and We hadn’t even made it out of the country yet. Anxiety welled up in me as adult questions roared in my head: will we lose our bags? Is God trying to tell me something? What am I thinking taking the kids out of the country by myself ((Something I’ve already done once, but the fear was real, ya’ll.)) Two little voices ages 10 and seven begged me to go. So off we went, across the pond as they say, hoping for the best on two glasses of champagne and a few phone calls to my husband. Ok, funny story right? But here’s my point: Nehemiah was really focused on what he was doing. He knew God had sent him to build this wall and nothing, and I mean nothing, would deter his plans. You read above about the weapons and the distractions and then the letter about his imminent (but not so imminent) death — or I shall say threats of death. He can build his wall in 52 days but I let delayed flights and a change of plans send me reeling through Mom-xiety land. What else sends me there? Negative comments on social, no sleep due to kid stuff, self confidence in doing the thing, omg do I need to list them all before you? I’ll sound like more of an absolute fool than I already am, but I vow to be more like these dudes and ladies in the Bible. If anything over the last year of a hiatus on social media has done me, it’s shown that I can depend on the stories of these heroes to put me in my place. If they can do it, so can we! We can build the wall. We can withstand the negativity. We can finish the job!
Shane and I can recap this one for you because like I said before, I’m sure I missed a really big point. Will let you know when our next podcast is up!
Thanks for listening and reading,