Nestled within a river valley that borders our ranch is a very special place. Every summer for a brief period of time, this normally quiet location erupts with the sounds of laughter, talking, the crackling of fires, and horse whinnies as campers and staff come together to participate in a youth trail ride.
This is a work that God has placed within my heart – and many others – to help out with and be a part of.
Yet, each year as we start to pull together all the pieces that are required so that this work – that God has placed within our hearts to do, and which He has given us an open door to do – can take place each summer…
Without fail, we face obstacles. Difficulties. Struggles. Great need. Unanswered questions. Frustrations. Battles.
Have you ever found this to be true in your life as well?
That the task which God has placed within your heart to do and given you the open door to carry out seems to be riddled with nothing but hindrances and hurdles? In fact, life would probably be a lot simpler if you didn’t have this task to do.
The story of Nehemiah in the Bible is about a man in whose heart God placed a task to carry out. When Nehemiah received news that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, its gates burned with fire and its people in distress, he was greatly burdened. As he prayed about this situation, God placed within his heart the desire to go to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls and gates.
However, there was just one obstacle…
Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the King of Persia. In order to go to Jerusalem he would have to get permission from the king to take a leave of absence.
Nehemiah 2 records the conversation that took place between these two men, and in it Nehemiah unfolds how the good hand of God was upon him, as he was granted favor in the eyes of the king. He received from the king the letters that would guarantee him safe conduct to Jerusalem, as well as provision for the timbers needed to rebuild the walls, the gates and what would be his residence there. Not only that, the king also sent him a military escort.
God had definitely opened the door for Nehemiah to complete the work that God had placed within his heart to do.
Yet, once Nehemiah reached Jerusalem, his path forward in carrying out this task was riddled with nothing but difficulties. In fact, he had hardly begun to carry out this task, when his troubles began.
Enemies mocking and taunting…internal strife between the people who should be working together…discouraged workers…plots against his life…schemes to discredit his name…conspiracies by enemies to carry out an all-out attack against those building the walls are some of the obstacles that are mentioned in Nehemiah 2 – 6.
Not only did he face all these struggles, but there was all the rubble that had to be removed so that the walls could be rebuilt, and the simple fact that although this was God’s work and good work to do…
It was hard work. Physically and mentally demanding.
As I have read through the book of Nehemiah, I have wondered why God didn’t make the way a little easier for Nehemiah. Although God placed before him an open door to carry out this work, why didn’t God give Nehemiah a paved highway instead of a path riddled with potholes and crevices, littered with rubble, and surrounded by enemies who would do whatever they could to hinder this work from being carried out?
As God Almighty, He could have easily done this.
But He chose not to.
I am not sure of all the answers, but as I read through the story of Nehemiah, I discover some reasons…
- The obstacles and struggles kept Nehemiah’s mind and heart focused upwards on God. As he carries out the work that God placed within his heart to do, he is continually bringing the struggles that he is facing to God in prayer. He places the hurdle in God’s hands and then takes another step forward, trusting that God to make a way.
- The obstacles and struggles reminded Nehemiah that the work that he was carrying out was God’s work. Since it was God’s work and he was God’s servant, he could rely on God to provide and make a way for the work to be completed, regardless of the struggles he was facing.
- As Nehemiah saw these needs met, he was shown again and again that the good hand of God was upon him…and this encouraged and strengthened him to take the next step – even though with another step, he faced more trouble. He could continually look back and see evidences of God’s goodness in his life.
- As he shared with others evidences of God’s goodness in this work, in spite of the obstacles that he faced, they were encouraged and strengthened to carry out the work that God had placed before them to do.
- When enemies taunted, mocked, ridiculed and planned all out attacks along with plots for his demise, Nehemiah didn’t respond in kind. Rather, he placed these people and their plots within God’s hands, and asked God to strengthen his hands so that he could continue to carry out the work God had placed within his heart to do.
As I have been reading through and meditating on the Nehemiah’s story, I have found myself encouraged by these truths.
For when God places within our hearts to carry out a good work, He will place before us, His servants, an open door, and then enable us to carry out this work. He will supply every need, regardless of what we face.
And those obstacles that He allows – regardless of what they are – are not placed to discourage us. Rather, they become the means of access by which we are encouraged and strengthened as we see the good hand of God upon us as He makes a way for us to take the next step forward.
So, if you are in the middle of carrying out a task that God has placed within your heart and life to carry out, and it seems that you are facing more hurdles and difficulties than you can count…
Please take heart:D
As God was faithful in the life of Nehemiah, and as He has been faithful in my life so many times (somehow regardless of the obstacles that we face, summer camp takes place each year)…
He will be faithful to you.
The road ahead may not be easy. Much will be required, but much will be provided…
All by the good hand of your faithful God that is upon you!