Do you feel like you are doing a great work? I mean, really?
We get up each day, drink our coffee, get ready for our day. Some of us head off to work, some get our kids ready for school, or stay home with the little people, some go out to volunteer, or look after grand-babies. Our lives all look full and different.
As our days saturate with events and activities, and as our season of life changes, it can be easy to get distracted with our busyness or changing circumstances, and forget what it is we are doing here.
Do we believe we are doing a great work? Do we believe our lives are infused with purpose?
The prophet Nehemiah had a job, he was the cupbearer to the king. No pressure, just take the first sips of the king’s drink to make sure there’s no poison in it to kill him or make him sick...nope, no pressure at all!
He serves the king in this role, until one day, he hears news about his homeland; sad, despairing news. His grief pushes him towards a deep conviction that something needs to be done. With the king’s permission and resources, Nehemiah begins a journey to his homeland, to start the enormous project of rebuilding the wall around the city of Jerusalem.
What is the great work that God has called you to in this season of your life? What journey have you begun? What do you need in order to pick it up and carry on in confidence?
Our great work begins with God’s purpose for our existence, and that is to bring glory to Him. Tim Challies writes*, “The simple fact is, you are not the point of your life. You are not the star of your show. If you live for yourself, your own comfort, your own glory, your own fame, you will miss out on your very purpose. God created you to bring glory to him.” What a shift in mindset, when we think that we are not created to consider only ourselves, rather the glory that we bring to God, in all that we do.
What are those things that bring glory to God? “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). We were created to do good works for others.
So, as we consider our great work - our good works, we need to remember 4 things:
Remember The Faith That Carries You. The task before Nehemiah was enormous. Moving forward was hard! There were tons of people to mobilize & organize, there was opposition from other locals, there were resources to coordinate. It was seriously a massive undertaking. Nehemiah’s faith in what God had called him to do, gave him the courage to move forward, trusting in God’s purpose and presence.
As we move forward today, right now, exactly where God has placed us, we need to hold on to the truth. God has a purpose for you, in this day, and He is present with you right now. Timothy Keller writes**, “If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.” Whatever enormous task sits before you - potty training the toddler, leading a small group, caring for aging parents - God has brought you into these exact circumstances for an eternal purpose, it matters forever. We persist in our roles and responsibilities to learn to trust and depend on Him more. Will you?
Remember His Faithfulness In Your Life. In Nehemiah 4, opposition seems to be rising against the project. The Jews are afraid. Nehemiah gets them equipped with swords and shields, ordering one person to work, the other to stand on guard; everyone carrying their weapon (seems a bit of a perilous arrangement). He then exhorts them saying, “Remember the Lord who is great and awesome...” (verse 14). He calls them to remember who God is, His faithfulness to them, giving them courage to take the next step in the midst of struggle and strife, because Yahweh alone is great and awesome.
As we face the tasks that God has for us, we will encounter bumps on the road, broken relationships, balancing family, home and work, struggles nursing our new baby; our work can be overwhelming and there are sacrifices we need to make. We can choose to remember what God has done for us, resting in His love and redemption, recalling with gratitude His grace & mercy over our lives and families. With that foundation, we can face the day and pursue all that God has for us, knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us!
Remember To Be Aware of Opposition, But Not Fixated On It. I imagine that Nehemiah was busy, like really, really busy- managing supplies, getting all the people organized and at the right places. Yet he was not ignorant of the opposition surrounding him. When enemies called him to a “meeting,” he suspected their evil plan to kill him instead. So, rather than going down to the meeting, he sent a message: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down” (6:3).
Following Jesus in obedience, doesn’t mean that our path is paved. Intentionally discipling our children doesn’t mean they always make perfect choices, our coworkers won’t always see things the way we do, the sacrifices we make to serve others can be hard. We press into Jesus and keep our eyes fixed on Him, not on our circumstances or struggles. We acknowledge what’s happening, but we don’t get consumed by it. By seeking the Lord in our circumstances, we ask Him to give us His perspective, to seek His truth and we pursue the task He has given us, without giving in to the things that would take us away from doing good for others, and bringing Him glory.
Remember That In Our Weakness He Is Strong. Nehemiah got tired. He was exhausted. He prayed “But now, O God, strengthen my hands” (6:9). In the great work that God has called us to, we will become weak and tired, maybe even exhausted to the point of doubt. Let’s remember it’s okay to be weak, we are not superheroes (contrary to what my son thinks, because he’s really “Flash”). God’s grace is sufficient for us in our weakness, and it is His power through us that brings the fruit, not our own strength.
We like to rely on ourselves, it gives us control and pride, but "my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:26). Our bodies aren't meant to go 24/7, and they can become plagued with sickness. When they do, we realize that there are many things we actually don't control. It can be shocking. What doesn't change is God's grace, even when things around us -and in us - do.
God has a purpose for His people, to bring Him glory and to do good works for others. Each of us has a unique purpose for our life, and sometimes different purposes in different seasons. As you walk in obedience to God, taking steps of faith, to glorify Him in all that you do, be encouraged that God is with you in this great work!
Take some time to think about the roles you are currently in, and how you are seeking to bring Him glory and do good works in these roles! Be encouraged as you abide in the Vine today!