Read His Words Before Ours!
Ice cream cone in hand, the woman walked to the nearest park bench. As she sat, her dog planted himself in front of her with a laser-sharp focus on the sweet treat.
The woman ate her ice cream at a contented pace and appeared to enjoy watching the activity around her: young families caravanning by with their bikes and strollers, other dog-walkers out for a leisurely stroll, and rambunctious squirrels playing tag amidst the trees.
Her dog, however, paid little attention to his surroundings. The occasional shifting of his ears indicated his awareness, but his focus never strayed more than a moment from the yummy goodness in his owner’s hand. She rewarded his calm patience with the last bite of the cone.
Just like that, the spell was broken. All evidence of the cone licked clean, the dog looked around him, taking in the activity and sniffing his surroundings.
The entire interaction was quite mesmerizing to observe, and served as a prime example of Nehemiah’s focus on building the wall.
Nehemiah possessed a similar focus and determination. He, too, could have become distracted by the efforts of Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem, and those others opposing the rebuilding of the wall. However, he kept his focus on the Lord and His glory. (Nehemiah 6:1-4)
Such focus required intentionality and a great deal of faith. His enemies sought to cause Nehemiah to give up on completing the wall. They constructed false narratives about Nehemiah planning to declare himself as king. (Nehemiah 6:5-9) If he’d attempted to clear himself of these accusations, Nehemiah’s energy and time invested in the wall would have been derailed.
When he persisted in building, the tactic changed.
False prophets began to warn Nehemiah of those coming to kill him. (Nehemiah 6:10-14) Nehemiah could have hidden in fear and declined his leadership role in order to save himself. However, much like the dog focused on the ice cream cone, Nehemiah kept his eyes and ears trained on the Lord. He listened for the Lord, did not hear the Lord confirming the warnings as true, and proceeded to lead the Israelites in rebuilding the wall.
Nehemiah showed great perseverance throughout his leadership of the rebuilding project. Successful perseverance is predicated on knowing the what and the why of a goal. Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem was a large-scale what, and the why rested solely on the promises and character of the Lord. Nehemiah’s responses reflected his understanding of these concepts, and displayed a conscious choice to trust the Lord’s faithfulness.
Additionally, Nehemiah did not build the walls alone, and others followed his demonstration of the same faith-filled perseverance. Without all Israelites working together, the rebuilding would have taken longer or may never have even been completed. As the wall took shape, the team then needed to continue persisting in their faith by guarding it effectively.
The Lord’s focus and perseverance are also interwoven deeply throughout the story. He provided Nehemiah with favor, supplies, leadership grace, humility, wisdom, and courage. All of these, in turn, blessed the people whom Nehemiah led and displayed surrender to the Lord’s plan to rebuild the wall.
Evidence of the Lord’s faithfulness didn’t stop there! He prompted Nehemiah to gather the people according to genealogies. These names and numbers, listed in chapter 7, show the ongoing fulfillment of promises the Lord made to Abraham regarding his descendants being more numerous than the sand of the sea. (Genesis 22:17-18) Talk about a long-term example of perseverance!
The Lord’s perseverance and faithfulness continue to endure long past the close of Nehemiah’s story. His faithfulness is displayed today as He is near to each of us, waiting for us to lean into Him and His building plans for our lives. We are invited to persevere with Him as He builds His kingdom in and through us. While the context of our individual needs for His presence to pursue us varies, the foundation for our perseverance is the same: Jesus.
How has the Lord spoken to you in your current scenario? Are there specific verses, promises, or elements of His character you can focus on to empower your obedience?
The Lord has great rewards for our perseverance, rewards which may not be experienced for some time, or even in this lifetime. However, they are coming! (James 1:2-4) We may experience ridicule, misunderstanding, exhaustion, and many other challenges in our journeys, much like Nehemiah. For those who surrender to the Master Builder, Jesus, every trial will be accompanied with the joy of knowing obedience honors the Lord and His work carries an eternal impact.
Dear sisters, the effort and probable pain of perseverance is always worth it when Christ is the laser-focus of our life’s purpose. May we keep our gaze unswervingly on Him.
He sees it all and will reward our faith and trust in Him.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!