Warm Up: Zechariah 4:10, Who despises the day of small things?
Stretching: Read Nehemiah 2: 11-20
Running: It can be toughing ‘getting back into it’ after a layoff. We can walk away from running for a lot of reasons: injury, rest, boredom, fatigue, lack of discipline, etc. But once we’ve stepped away from the discipline of working out, it can be hard to get back into it. Sometimes after a layoff, I have felt so overwhelmed by the prospect of starting up again, that it paralyzes me and I don’t do anything at all except put it off longer! I have found a secret however: Don’t be afraid to start small. Easing back into a training program is a good idea anyway. Just doing something, no matter how small, can kick start the process and get things moving in the right direction again.
In today’s story we learn about the importance of doing something to get things moving. Nehemiah is a Jew who was taken into captivity by the Babylonians. Much like Esther and Daniel, however, he found favor among the ruling party of the day. In this story, he is cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, ruler of the Persian Empire. After speaking with friends who have returned from Jerusalem, he is distraught to hear that there is much distress and upheaval in the city. This news leads him to fast and pray. The king notices his sad countenance and in a strange twist, grants Nehemiah’s request to return to his homeland, under the king’s authority, to see what is happening. Upon his arrival, Nehemiah takes notice that the walls were in ruins around the city. This is an interesting observation and one that shapes his strategy. He summarized that the problem with the restoration of Israel wasn’t outside the walls of the city, but inside it. The remnant that had returned had fallen into apostasy and had become distracted and discouraged by the enormity of their task. After 141 years, the city was still in disarray. Obviously, there was great opposition from those who did not want to see Judah restored and the Jews returned to their homeland. Nehemiah’s strategy was not to focus on what he couldn’t do, but what he could do. He started by rebuilding the walls. In the secrecy of night, he made his plans. Then, he set his hand to the plow and never looked back (Luke 9:62). The result is found in Nehemiah 6:15: “So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.” That’s an amazing recovery. Once protected from the outside, Nehemiah and Ezra started working on the people in the city from the inside out and Judah’s reformation had begun. Remember, whether you’re just getting started or getting back to it after a layoff, “inch by inch, life’s a cinch; mile by mile, life’s a trial!”
Cool Down: “Lord, I know I’ve been disobedient in some disciplines in my life and I hear you speaking to me about this. I know you want to restore discipline in my life, but sometimes, it overwhelms me. Show me a strategy for getting back to work. I love you enough Lord that I want to try again. But, I need you to help me. Put it in my heart a way to begin again without being overwhelmed. I know you are able to do that Lord and I submit to your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen”