If you had the power to change anything, what would it be?
Maybe it’s something about your life, your family, or your community. Maybe it’s a problem you see in the world around you. Maybe it’s an issue you struggle with in your heart. But whether it may be, I would bet that you would make improvements in that area if you could.
So why don’t you?
Well, I am going to go out on a limb and say you probably think you can’t. There a variety of factors that might influence this belief. Maybe you don’t have the means or resources. Maybe you don’t believe you have the right personality. Maybe you have failed in the past. All valid reasons. And to be fair, it’s possible that you are correct. There are times when we need to take a step back from certain situations and wait for God to intervene. And yes, there are some things we just don’t have the power to change.
But I am not talking about that. I am talking about times when you have the power and conviction to act.
In some ways, I am an easygoing person. I don’t care what kind of car you drive or what brand of clothes you wear. I won’t judge you by your career choices, the color of your skin, or the ideologies you subscribe to. I don’t even care who you voted for in the recent election (so long as you made an educated vote). I respect people from all walks of life. This might lead some to think that I am soft. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. To be honest, there are times when I am nothing short of stubborn.
In fact, if I had to pick my worst pet peeve, it would be people who frequently compromise. And, when I use the word “compromise”, I don’t mean when people do their best to make peace with others. That would be a positive use of the word. That is a noble form of compromise that comes from a place of love. No, when I say “compromise”, I mean people who sacrifice their values and ideals for the sake of making life easier. I am talking about quitters. People who had great potential, but fell short because they gave up too soon. When people make decisions from a place of fear instead of faith.
None of us are perfect, that much is clear. But what I love about the Bible, is it is filled with people who refused to quit. People who were so intent on making the world a better place, that they sacrificed their own well-being to do it. No matter how hard things got, they kept moving forward. Nothing is more inspiring to me than that.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is one that details an account of incredible perseverance. That would be the story of Nehemiah. I will admit, Nehemiah may not get as much attention as some of our other Bible “heroes”. But in my opinion, he deserves just as much credit.
See, I believe that persistence pays off. And Nehemiah was one persistent guy.
Who was Nehemiah?
Well, he was a cupbearer to the Persian King, actually. Exciting right? That means he was the official taste-tester. He tasted the King’s drinks to ensure that they weren’t poisoned. So I guess, in a way, it was kind of a high stakes job. But what makes Nehemiah unique, is that his credentials were really quite underwhelming. I mean, he didn’t hold the office of prophet or apostle. He wasn’t a respected figure. In fact, at the start of our story, he doesn’t occupy any real position of public importance.
In fact, you might even say that Nehemiah was just…ordinary.
That didn’t last very long, however, because this ordinary guy had a mission. Having heard from his friends back home that Jerusalem was in bad condition, he was distressed. So distressed in fact, that he managed to obtain permission from King Artaxerxes to travel back and help repair the damage. (Nehemiah 2:1-6)
Upon arriving in Jerusalem, Nehemiah has his work cut out for him. Rebuild the wall that protected their land from outside attackers. Simple enough task.
Except it wasn’t.
This could’ve been a pretty straightforward job. Unfortunately, this decision to rebuild the wall attracted a lot of attention…some of it unwanted.
Right from the start, Nehemiah had some critics. Some men by the names of Sanballat and Tobiah did their best to thwart his plans. Attempting to halt construction, they made several efforts to talk him out of continuing. Laughter and mockery ensued, followed by an attempted sneak attack. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, there were also issues going on within Nehemiah’s team. Safe to say this leader had a lot on his plate.
However, the passage that I would like to call attention to, is found in Nehemiah 6. In this particular section, Nehemiah is extremely close to his victory. Becoming more and more desperate, his adversaries attempt to trick him into lowering his guard. They want to draw him into a trap. Instead of launching an obvious attack, they approach him with a much more subtle maneuver.
Nehemiah 6:1-3- Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet set up the doors in the gates. So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono.
But I realized they were plotting to harm me, so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am doing a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?”
In other words, Nehemiah has chosen to take the high road. He is able to discern what that these people are trying to throw him off track. His solution? Ignore them.
Spoiler Alert- Nehemiah completes the wall. Despite his enemies attempts, he is indeed successful. And in the end, he emerges out of his ordeal as a great leader too.
If there is anything we can learn from this story, it is the power of faith, focus, and perseverance. It is about discovering your purpose and sticking with it. No matter how you feel or what people say about you.
Know your mission and refuse to compromise.
I don’t know what kind of “wall” you are building, or what types of challenges you are facing. I have no idea what God has put in your heart to do. But I do believe that if God has called you to it, then he has equipped you for it. If you are in a position to do something about it, then you are the right man or woman for the job.
So I challenge you today to evaluate your position; your priorities. Decide what you want to do, and do it. Search your soul and your heart for the mission that God has for you. This could be a number of goals; from becoming a better spouse/parent to implementing a great idea for your church or community. But whatever it may be, make a reasonable plan that you can execute. Once you have, then carry it out.
There are so many distractions in the world today. Distractions that would love to steal your focus and drain you of your time and energy. These distractions can become your undoing if you let them. So before they do, make your mind up. Don’t wait for problems to sneak up on you. Don’t wait until you are in a vulnerable position to decide what matters most to you.
Distractions are everywhere. You can choose to either ignore them or let them define your journey. You can either quit, or do a great work.
Which will you choose?
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