Always Building and Watching
“The God of heaven will give us success.” Nehemiah 2:20
Lately, I’ve been relating a lot to the Old Testament character Nehemiah who felt physically exhausted, emotionally spent, and spiritually opposed (and I’m not trying to rebuild a wall — just be faithful to the small stuff God has called me to do). As I read about the circumstances surrounding this unflinching soul who labored long and hard despite opposition from many forces, I am struck by this man’s focus on his objective to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (no matter what).
No doubt, Nehemiah, like all of us, caught the glorious vision of restoring what enemies had destroyed, for God’s honor and as a testimony of hope for the future of God’s people. When he realized the depth of destruction that had occurred, Nehemiah sat down and wept. Sound familiar? I wonder how many of us have the same reaction to — the national news, our local news, even to daily reports from our closest friends and family?
Of course, the appropriate reaction to any report of injury, loss, and destruction is to sit down and weep. But Nehemiah didn’t stop with the natural reaction; he took the news of the catastrophe and went straight to God.
Nehemiah’s bold prayer of faith, of great expectation even, is the kind of prayer I’m offering up to the Lord these days because I know my one and only hope lies in the deliverance that God alone can supply.
Reading about the days that followed Nehemiah’s gathering of workers and supplies, I marvel at not only how hard they worked, but how they worked — each one with his weapon in his hand. Nehemiah and his people were always building and watching. In other words, they had a job to do, but they were wise enough to stay on alert to the dangers that always accompany a work of faith (seen and unseen).
“But I (Nehemiah) prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.'” (See Nehemiah 6:9)
Nehemiah, terrific leader that he was, proved himself strong in faith as well as street smarts. He knew instinctively what I often forget. God can call us to a work; but it’s up to us to make sure we have our equipment, our supplies, and our weapons at the ready because opposition is always lurking just outside our line of vision.
For me, when I have a job to do, my best work (for God) comes only after I’ve counted the cost and prepared for the task at hand. For all of us, preparation comes in many guises … and there’ll be a price to pay, a burden we willingly take on, and sacrifices we’ll gladly make the moment God calls us. And yet, we can only complete the job with God’s sovereign intervention.
He puts the burden upon our heart to accomplish for Him something we can only do through Him. Each step of the way, with our hand upon our weapon (of faith), He gives us the gift of conscious reliance upon His moment-by-moment provision. We’re only truly suited for serving well when we truly understand the depth of our dependence upon Him.
God Sees You
“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9a (NIV)
“Look in me eyes, daddy! Look in me eyes,” our sweet toddler exclaimed one busy Sunday afternoon.
The curious phrase became a habit from that day forward. His intensity often left my husband and me laughing. But make no mistake: Chase was serious, taking his daddy’s face into his hands, leaning close, eyes inches apart.
When he needed a little extra attention, this was his go-to response. The only thing that would placate him was the reply, “I see you, sweetie. I see you.”
Coming from a big family, I remember yearning as a child for more one-on-one time with my parents. Because we traveled and sang, I learned quickly that performing well temporarily satisfied the desire to be noticed. I loved music so much, and though I was somewhat shy, it felt good to bring smiles to everyone’s faces.
But the older I got, the more I began to understand: Applause fades. The show ends. People “outgrow” you.
It can lead a tender heart to wonder …
Do I matter? Does anyone REALLY see me? Am I invisible?
Although I’m not a kid anymore, I wrestle at times with feeling unnoticed, desperately wanting to grab the faces of those around me and demanding, “Look in me eyes.” Sometimes I feel like I have to do that with God, too.
It’s easy to question our worth when it appears others don’t appreciate or truly see us, or when we compare their “glamorous” life with our “simple” one. I see my friend’s highlight reel as she serves orphans in Uganda and then feel like I’ve all but disappeared in the lowlight of an underwhelming day.
Washing dishes, running errands, making dinner … none of it feels meaningful. Sometimes the false belief — that value lies in the things we do and not in the God who made and passionately loves us — can crush our fragile hearts.
Have you been there?
May I speak hope into your soul today? A heart turned toward God never goes unnoticed.
He sees you right where you are, even if no one else does. He is actively searching for a heart like yours! A heart that loves the Lord — one that’s surrendered to Him — cannot be ignored. But our gracious God doesn’t stop there.
In our key verse, 2 Chronicles 16:9a, the Scriptures declare God sees the whole earth, and He promises “to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
Strength to fold one more load of laundry? You bet.
Strength to plan one more meal? Yes.
Strength to trust His timing? In abundance.
Strength to faithfully serve Him in the small things? Absolutely!
Strength to wait for the season to change? It’s yours!
In the hardest of times and on the loneliest of days, I don’t have to perform or jump up and down for God to notice me. Instead He is ever reaching, ready to take my face in His hands, lean close and whisper, “Look in My eyes, child. Look in My eyes.”
In that closeness, where His tender gaze meets our weary but trusting heart, we’ll hear Him say, “I see you, sweetie. I see you.”
Face to face with our heavenly Father, He soothes the ache to be seen. The desire to perform disappears in the revelation that I am fully known and fully loved by God. And my heart can finally see that His eyes upon me are the only ones I’ll ever need.
When You’re Working, God Is Watching
Rick Warren, Author, crosswalk.com
“Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do” (Ephesians 6:6 The Message).
If you’re a believer, no matter who your boss is at work, ultimately, you’re working for God. Whether or not anyone else sees what you do, God sees—and he doesn’t want you to waste the time and resources of your employer.
Maybe you hate your job. Maybe you think you’re underpaid. It really doesn’t matter. The Bible says to do more than just the minimum required. God calls you to give your best. That’s what integrity looks like.
You may know someone who only works hard when the boss is watching. Or you may see someone who takes company supplies home from the office, which is a form of stealing. Or you may work with someone who takes extra long breaks every day—or consistently comes in late and leaves early.
Would you believe God compares this kind of work ethic to vandalism? Proverbs 18:9 says, “Slack habits and sloppy work are as bad as vandalism” (The Message). The Living Bible translates the verse this way: “A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things”.
God considers it a serious sin when we don’t give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. Even if no one else at work gives their all, followers of Jesus should.
When you work as if you’re working for God, he will bless your integrity. Yes, your employer most likely will notice your commitment to the success of the company or organization, and that may lead to financial blessings. But more importantly, you will grow spiritually as you work in obedience to God.
Streams in the Desert – March 9
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon. Descend from the crest of Amana, from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon, from the lions’ dens and the mountain haunts of the leopards (Song 4:8)
Crushing weights give the Christian wings. It seems like a contradiction in terms, but it is a blessed truth. David out of some bitter experience cried: “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! Then would I fly away, and be at rest” (Ps. 55:6). But before he finished this meditation he seems to have realized that his wish for wings was a realizable one. For he says, “Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, and he will sustain thee.”
The word “burden” is translated in the Bible margin, “what he (Jehovah) hath given thee.” The saints’ burdens are God-given; they lead him to “wait upon Jehovah,” and when that is done, in the magic of trust, the “burden” is metamorphosed into a pair of wings, and the weighted one “mounts up with wings as eagles.
—Sunday School Times
One day when walking down the street,
On business bent, while thinking hard
About the “hundred cares” which seemed
Like thunder clouds about to break
In torrents, Self-pity said to me:
“You poor, poor thing, you have too much
To do. Your life is far too hard.
This heavy load will crush you soon.”
A swift response of sympathy
Welled up within. The burning sun
Seemed more intense. The dust and noise
Of puffing motors flying past
With rasping blast of blowing horn
Incensed still more the whining nerves,
The fabled last back-breaking straw
To weary, troubled, fretting mind.
“Ah, yes, ’twill break and crush my life;
I cannot bear this constant strain
Of endless, aggravating cares;
They are too great for such as I.”
So thus my heart condoled itself,
“Enjoying misery,” when lo!
A “still small voice” distinctly said,
“Twas sent to lift you—not to crush.”
I saw at once my great mistake.
My place was not beneath the load
But on the top! God meant it not
That I should carry it. He sent
It here to carry me. Full well
He knew my incapacity
Before the plan was made. He saw
A child of His in need of grace
And power to serve; a puny twig
Requiring sun and rain to grow;
An undeveloped chrysalis;
A weak soul lacking faith in God.
He could not help but see all this
And more. And then, with tender thought
He placed it where it had to grow—
Or die. To lie and cringe beneath
One’s load means death, but life and power
Await all those who dare to rise above.
Our burdens are our wings; on them
We soar to higher realms of grace;
Without them we must roam for aye
On planes of undeveloped faith,
For faith grows but by exercise in circumstance impossible.
Oh, paradox of Heaven. The load
We think will crush was sent to lift us
Up to God! Then, soul of mine,
Climb up! for naught can e’er be crushed
Save what is underneath the weight.
How may we climb! By what ascent
Shall we surmount the carping cares
Of life! Within His word is found
The key which opes His secret stairs;
Alone with Christ, secluded there,
We mount our loads, and rest in Him.
—Miss Mary Butterfield