“And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and the officials and to the rest of the people, Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your homes.” (Nehemiah 4:14)
Have you ever noticed how many jobs or projects get started but never completed? Many more projects and ideas are conceived than ever get finished. There are a myriad of reasons for projects not being finished or completed. Sometimes it is because enthusiasm wears thin, money runs out or maybe we just run out of energy.
There may be circumstances beyond our control which come about. Maybe unforeseen obstacles pop up, unanticipated problems rear their ugly heads or it could be some other unwelcome factor causing the issue.
It could be you are on a job or project for which you need to depend on others. Maybe those assisting you get tired, bored, disgruntled, disappointed, dishonest, angry, envious, jealous, competitive or at times even combative. Jobs or projects often die with the final words “I quit” attached to them.
When you read in Scripture about Nehemiah and the project God desired for him to accomplish, he had every reason in the world to give up and utter those infamous words, “I quit!”. They were facing poor pay, long hours, constant problems, dangerous working conditions, understaffing, shortage of supplies, and little job satisfaction…you name it and the challenge was there for Nehemiah.
However, somehow Nehemiah got the job done. How did he do it? He relied on God for help and strength and God did not disappoint. God protected Nehemiah and empowered him to accomplish all he had called him to do. Nehemiah made sure to encourage his workforce and instill in them a concern for the well being of the community.
Nehemiah reminded those working on the wall of the importance of the task at hand. The project they were involved in was significant because it served more than their personal interest. Nehemiah focused his worker’s attention on the well-being of those for whom they were responsible – their families and their homes – their friends and neighbors. They needed to work hard for those for whom they were concerned.
Nehemiah also reminded them of the higher purpose by telling them to “Remember God…”. Nehemiah understood what they were doing ultimately served God, so he and his workers were bound together in providing the sweat and muscle needed to bring honor and glory to God, through accomplishing the task to which they were called.
Workers who have a self centered focus struggle when conditions are less than ideal. But men and women inspired with a cause transcending purely personal preference endure more and are satisfied with less. They finish the job they are given because they know they are doing the will of God.
Much of what you just read may ring familiar to you, as this is being written for those of you considered as “First Responders”. You have a very trying, tiring and often thankless job. You may feel as though you work under some of the very conditions in which Nehemiah and his workers found themselves.
As “First Responders”, just as with Nehemiah, I believe many of you are called by God to do the job you do. God has given you the desire and passion to work for something greater than yourselves and to protect and serve the community in which He has placed you.
When the hours seem terribly long and the job seems to become more than seems bearable, remember to do as Nehemiah, and rely on God for strength and help in accomplishing whatever task you are faced with.
Later in chapter 6 of Nehemiah we read there were some who sent messengers asking Nehemiah to come meet with them. Nehemiah’s response most likely caught them off guard when he replied, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down”. Amid all the difficulties and turmoil in which Nehemiah found himself, he knew the work had to be finished and he could not come down.
Several years ago our Senior Pastor retired after almost 20 years of serving this church and community. The church was growing and doing some wonderful things in the community. As he gave his final sermon, he left the congregation with one simple phrase, which became the motto for several years…He simply said, “STAY ON THE WALL, YOU ARE DOING A GREAT WORK HERE!…and so are you!