There was a master builder named Nehemiah who served on the staff for King Artaxerxes. His main task was to sample the king’s wine, so if it was poisoned he would die instead of his boss, indicating that Nehemiah was a man of courage. Word came to Nehemiah from Palestine that the walls of his beloved city of Jerusalem lie in ruins. For over 100 years, the city walls remained in disrepair and he was passionate about solving the problem. His first step was prayer, because sometimes vision is born in disrepair and gestated in discouragement. There are times God has to practice deconstruction in our lives before he can rebuild his vision within us. Nehemiah’s prayer doesn’t lead to immediate action, but to prayerful preparation. As Andy Stanley writes, “Investigate before you Initiate.” Once in Jerusalem, he inspects the walls at night. Nehemiah starts with a critical assessment, identifying the problem so that God could raise up his vision within Nehemiah. On occasion, it is important for us to practice a similar spiritual assessment. How does my relationship with the Lord influence my priorities, passions and desires? How does it affect the management of my time and money?
Once the rebuilding of the walls began, Nehemiah began to see success. But with success comes opposition. Two powerful influential men in town, Sanballat and Tobiah, object to the project because in its completion they would lose control. Small thinking resents systemic change. Vision and passion are often challenged by faithless naysayers, because vision sees something before it exists. Therefore, the opposition had to elevate the threat level by increasing the cost of fulfilling the task. Once again, Nehemiah prays that God would thwart the plan of the opposition, because he recognized that the team’s morale was at risk. Therefore, Nehemiah had to come up with a new strategy to combat their fear of failure. First, he gave them visible assurance that the walls would be complete. He did this by positioning men on the walls at extreme places of vulnerability, ensuring success. Second, he gave them faith assurance that regardless of the odds, they would not fail, because God was with them. His desire was to get their eyes off the problem, and focused on God. Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith.”
The outcome was that God’s people were equipped to move forward and to finish the work that God had given them. How is God equipping you to move forward in the full assurance of your faith?