In my trek through Old Testament History books, I find myself in Nehemiah this National Day of Prayer.
If there’s something Nehemiah is known for, it’s prayer. (Well, and restoration, of course). In fact, the first thing he does is call out to God when he hears about the distressed state of his people and Jerusalem. When he needed wisdom in a particular situation, he prayed before addressing it (Nehemiah 2:4b). He leaned on God in times of opposition (Nehemiah 4). He sought God’s favor in everything he did (Nehemiah 5:19; 13:31). He responded to threats and fear by asking for the opposite (Nehemiah 6:9b). He was a worshiper (Nehemiah 12).
Today, though, I was mulling over chapter six. Nehemiah has been building, and the gaps are closed, in spite of opposition from Sanballat. (I know, that just sounds like the name of a villain, doesn’t it?) The only thing still needed are doors on the gates, so you would think the bad guys would recognize this as a lost cause and give up, but no. In this chapter Sanballat tries to lure Nehemiah away from his project four times, and when Nehemiah doesn’t respond, he accuses the builders of plotting a rebellion. Nehemiah shrugs it off, and continues working, so the enemy tries to plant seeds of fear: They’re weak and tired and they’re never going to finish.
Then what does Nehemiah do? He prays four words, “Now strengthen my hands.”
Honestly, I tend to think I would have given up back in chapter four, when Sanballat and his buddies first started coming around, but I almost certainly would have thrown in the towel at this point. I’d probably be so sick of the threats and the distractions, I’d just say, “You know what? You’re right. I am weak and tired and I’m not ever going to finish.” Probably.
Not Nehemiah. He was so focused on his calling – restoring Jerusalem’s walls, and in many ways, its people – that he treated Sanballat as exactly what he was: a distraction. He knew the only reason Sanballat was coming around was because the gaps were closing, and he remained undeterred in his task.
At the beginning of my twenties, I asked God to use this decade of my life to make me a prayer warrior. Six years in, I see so many circumstances that I’ve given up on in sheer discouragement.
And, I’ve got to be honest, there’s something going on right now that I want to give up praying for.
That thing is Seattle. After four years of upset plans regarding Seattle, once again, I find myself in not quite the right timing. After four years, I’m weak and tired and I wonder if I’m ever going to get there, or if I’ll be stuck in the state of Texas forever.
Here’s the thing: even though I know it’s not time for me to go to Seattle in September, and even though I have no idea when it will be time, I do know I will go when the time is right. So, I have two choices: I can give up and try to never think another thought about Seattle again (hahaHA), or I can keep praying the vision God has given me, and be at peace with the fact that when it’s time, I’ll be there.
I’m going with option two, even though I am tired and weak and everyone who’s followed this journey with me is going to roll their eyes and secretly think I’m never going. There will probably be days when I think that myself, and not-so-secretly. But over the past four years, God’s been cultivating this vision in me. He’s nurtured it and made it blossom, and I believe with all my heart that any delay is because He’s not yet brought me to where I need to be for this transition. In the meantime, I’m exactly where I need to be.
Yeah, I’m tired. I’m weak.
But with God’s help, I am going to see this vision through.
Now strengthen my hands.