There’s a few parts from Nehemiah that have gotten stuck in my head over the past few months. Here’s one of them, from chapter 5:
The Spirit is using this example to help me evaluate what I’m devoting myself to as well as to consider the things I can’t pursue as a result.
I have four kids five and under. They have a plethora of physical needs, not to mention the emotional and spiritual ones. And we’re starting off on our homeschool voyage this year. Devotion is a must. I had kinda hoped that maybe it wouldn’t be, but I’m finding that I can’t watch shows and listen to as many podcasts as I used to. Or go out as often. And that isn’t bad- but it is different. And truthfully, it’s the most taxing thing I’ve yet to face.
Nehemiah went from being the the king’s cupbearer to a quick career change into construction oversight, commander of a makeshift militia, governor, and all-around point person for a group of fearful and difficult recently resettled exiles. Shifts like that necessitate your full attention. I can’t imagine how stressful it was, and on paper it makes sense to me why he chose to dedicate himself to one thing at a time.
But in real life, that’s really hard to do. It would have been tough to spend twelve years in a place and not buy land. When comfort (food, wine, extra cash) is accessible, you gotta be convinced that there’s a better reward waiting to not take advantage of those amenities.
There are a lot of things I’m grateful for – living in the USA is such a huge thing to not take for granted- but I don’t want to be distracted from devotion to the work God has for me by all the entertainment and comfort available to me!
In my experience, guilt doesn’t work well as a long-term motivator. Sheer willpower works somewhat better sometimes. But time and time again what genuinely drives me to not give up when life feels crushing is being persuaded that God is powerful and fearing Him. He does reward those who seek to honor Him. That’s why Nehemiah 5 ends this way:
“Remember me favorably, my God, for all that I have done for this people.”
God remembers and sees. He loves His children and has prepared good works in advance for us to walk in. When those good works require all of your devotion and mean you don’t get to do _______ thing, take heart. Whatever your “instead…” may be, whatever land you don’t get to buy, He is your portion forever.