October 11, 2013 by Isaac Hovet
So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But I realized they were plotting to harm me, so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?” (Nehemiah 6:2, 3 NLT)
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Sanballat was a discouraging and derisive opponent of Nehemiah. Nehemiah had taken on the task of rebuilding the walls in Jerusalem, but Sanballat, the Persian appointed governor of Samaria regularly chided Nehemiah about his task. No doubt he was motivated by jealousy and a desire for preeminent power in the area.
Progress, in the face of many trials, has been made by Nehemiah.
He has here invited Nehemiah to meet. But, Nehemiah shrewdly sees their evil motivations. He knows that a meeting with Sanballat is intended for his harm and the destruction of the rebuilding effort.
Two observations about Nehemiah’s response. First, he says, “I am involved with a great work…” I wonder if we are aware of the great work we are involved with? I wonder if we are involved in a great work? The question is this, do we have such a great task fixed in our gaze as to give us credible reasons to deny entertaining distractions?
Nehemiah simply couldn’t come because his life was consumed by the mission God sent him on.
I think some of the worst seasons of discouragement happen when we’ve lost sight of our purpose and the great assignment we’ve been given. When we have the time to meet with ambassadors of discouragement, death and destruction, we aren’t engaged enough with what a God intends of us.
The local church is like an aircraft carrier. We are deployed and anchored in strategic communities where we weekly train and then deploy to our workplaces, families, neighborhoods, schools. Many of us need to re-engage with the missional nature of our church by rejecting the notion that the local church is a cruise ship that we hop on and off at our leisure. Instead, we come to get filled and fueled to engage the world.
Secondly, notice that Nehemiah’s task included work. “Why should I stop working…”
We are increasingly becoming an experience driven culture. We love to ‘be at’ or with or to feel or to say, “I’ve been there…” There is nothing inherently wrong with experiences, but nothing solidifies our ability to resist the discouragement of the enemy like keeping our hand to the plow.
You may been in a season of hard work and the work is wearying. Keep going. Keep being strong. Keep your head down and endure. Although you might wish for more relaxation, you don’t wish for time to host and discouraging enemy. Granted, some of us need to learn to rest, but I write with those in mind who are susceptible to the easy out of quitting. Once you stop your activity towards a goal, you not only lose progress, you lose momentum.
In a state of non-activity, we become very susceptible to nudges in the wrong direction
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I write today with a sense that you’re being attacked by the discouraging and distracting enemy. I’d be happy to pray with you and for you if this you. Take heart and be strong in The Lord.