“Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.” – Nehemiah 6:4 [NIV]
People were trying to intimidate Nehemiah so that the building project would cease. The Bible says that messengers came down a total of four times to basically harass Nehemiah, and his response was that he couldn’t come down because he was doing a great work. Then Sanballat, the governor of Samaria, sent his aide with a letter and again with the same message. The fifth time, the response didn’t change. Nehemiah was not leaving the project to meet with the group trying to halt the work. He sends a message, a very short message (why waste time writing a dissertation when there is no need) back telling Sanballat he was making things up. He prayed and continued to work.
Talk about standing firm. Nehemiah understood what he was supposed to do and he did not let anyone try to tell him otherwise. He kept pressing forward with the project God gave him to do and allowed God to handle the rest. He did not leave his work for a moment to go talk to these troublemakers to try and change their minds. He didn’t spend time pointing fingers at those trying to cause friction, but kept on pressing forward.
When we are doing a good work, we too have people around us trying to get us to stop. Whether it is on purpose or without thinking, people do try to thwart our good works at times. The question is, do we respond like Nehemiah, firmly planting our feet to get the work done? Do we allow the threats, the lies, and the words spoken to simply roll off our backs and continue onward? Or do we stop the project to spend time defending the project and ourselves? Remember, this isn’t about us—and God does not need us to defend His work.
On a recent trip I drove from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. The drive did not seem so long except when we were in Virginia. It seemed like Virginia went on forever. When I compared the time we spent in Maryland and West Virginia, it was very apparent that the journey as longer. I started to feel exhausted. I started to doubt if we would ever get out of Virginia and reach our destination. The trip did not look like this on Google Maps.
As we understand our journeys in life, we usually have some sort of perception of what to expect. We use our knowledge, our experiences, and even other experiences to help prepare us for what lies ahead with the current road we are traveling. The problem arises when reality is very different from what we expected. We start to lose momentum, to get exhausted, to even have doubts.
Don’t give up. If God has called you to do something, you will reach the finish line. The road is not always going to be quick or smooth, but He is faithful. Focus on God, not on your expectations of the situation. We cannot know 100% what the situation will bring our way, but we can trust our unchanging God. I eventually made it to North Carolina and you will eventually reach your destination as well. Keep pressing forward. We each have a long road ahead of us, but it promises us a beautiful future.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24