Nehemiah’s Commitment – Stay on the Wall
Nehemiah’s Commitment – Stay on the Wall
A little more than a year ago, I watched my son take a test for his second degree black belt in karate. He was 15 at the time. He worked reasonably hard all the time, but his effort the few months before the test was noticeably different. He met with his teachers as much as possible. He was at every class. When he wasn’t assisting them in teaching the younger kids, he was working on his own stuff. He had some important work in mind. I watched him put off trips out, weekends away, and other things in which he was interested. He was focused on what he determined to be his important work and he refused to get distracted. What about you? Do you ever get distracted from your important work? I know I do…
We all have important work. We might be parenting children, working in a children’s home, serving as a missionary, or being an emergency room physician. We have important work to do! The problem is everything seems to be trying to get our attention! Distractions are going to happen. Whether we take the offer those distractions give us is another matter altogether. Will we stick to our important work or will we allow ourselves to be distracted? I find myself getting distracted too often. Then I think of Nehemiah. He stuck with a project because he knew he was doing a great work.
Nehemiah Avoids Distraction
Now when it was reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, to Geshem the Arab and to the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall, and that no breach remained in it, although at that time I had not set up the doors in the gates, then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they were planning to harm me. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:1-4)
Now don’t get caught up on the names. Steve, Tom, and Gary work just fine (and my apologies to any readers by those names!). In case you’re unfamiliar, Nehemiah was an official in the Persian capitol city of Susa. He was a Jew who was displaced when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem. Nehemiah asked the king for permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall of the city. Steve (Sanballat) was the governor in northern Israel, also known as Samaria. Sanballat hoped to reunite the nation-state of Israel and become governor over the whole thing. This is why he wanted rid of Nehemiah. Now that you’re up to speed…
Nehemiah called his leadership in getting the wall rebuilt a “great work.” Now, you may not see yourself as having important work like rebuilding a city wall. Don’t sell yourself short. My wife’s role as a stay-at-home mother is critical to our children! Her important work as a volunteer at our church is invaluable. My work is critical to meeting the needs of our family and helping a lot of folks through the struggles in their lives. You have important work to. You just have to see it that way.
We could talk about all kinds of distractions, but the one I want to focus on is opportunity. We have opportunities all around us. We have opportunities for entertainment, or a trip to the donut shop, or to call in sick when we’re not, or sex, or drugs, or ______. What distracts you most? I am convinced that we get distracted by opportunities more than anything else. We take opportunities to go after things that are not part of our important work.
One of the key reasons is that we settle for something other than the goal we set out to achieve. Sometimes this is because we’re lazy (hey, call it for what it is), sometimes it’s because we don’t believe in ourselves, sometimes we don’t believe in the God that gave us the vision in the beginning. There are a host of reasons. The truth is, we can justify nearly anything. We can come up with all kinds of reasons the distractions are “good.” The problem is “good” and “best” are not the same.
In Nehemiah’s case, he could have made a deal with Sanballat and actually put himself under Sanballat’s governorship. It would actually make sense. Having good relationships with the neighbors is usually a good thing. Nehemiah did not take that opportunity for the “good” thing. He stayed focused, determined to get the best thing – the wall rebuilt. He decided the job God gave him was the more important work.
What are You Working Toward?
The work you’re doing requires focus. If you’re trying to get out of debt, don’t take the opportunity to eat out every day. If you are trying to raise responsible children, stay away from the distraction to satisfy all their whining and giving them everything they want. If you are building a great marriage, you need time with your spouse. If you want to build your business, don’t settle for those contracts that do not add to your capacity (I recently did this, by the way). Your situation may be different, but take a look at what God has called you to do. This is your important work. This is your great work.
You are doing a great work and cannot come down. Don’t get distracted by things that take you away from all the great works you have to do in your life. Those distractions will delay, at best, and destroy at worst. Nehemiah’s words sound an alarm to us to avoid distraction, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” Make a decision to stay on the wall(s) you are building. It is worth it! Stay with the great work to which God has called you!