By Elizabeth Musser
Lord, reading Nehemiah 3 this morning has brought me to tears. It’s basically just a list of names of people that I don’t recognize. There are not many who are superstars in the Word of God. Just a lot of ordinary people.
Oh, but what they are doing is extraordinary.
The year is 444 BC and Nehemiah, the cupbearer for Persia’s King Artaxerxes I, learns that the Jewish exiles who have returned to Jerusalem are discouraged and that the walls around the city are in terrible disrepair.
When Nehemiah hears this, he weeps and prays to the Lord. With boldness, he then asks the king permission to return to Jerusalem and oversee the rebuilding of the city walls. And the king grants his request.
Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem, surveys the walls by night, and despite the mocking and threats of the king’s officials, sets about organizing the rebuilding of the walls.
I come to the list of names in chapter 3, and this is what I find. Time after time, verse after verse, Nehemiah records: “The sons of so and so built a section of the wall…next to them someone else made repairs…beside them so and so built back a section…the son of so and so made repairs…
On and on and on until every section in the wall is being repaired.
There are many things I love about this image. I close my eyes and picture the Israelites making mortar and placing stone upon stone, shoulder to shoulder with their neighbors, each intent on building back his section of the wall.
And only his section.
They are working diligently and no one is calling across, “Hey, you have better tools. Hey, I wish I had that kind of stone. Hey, you’ve got more sons helping you.”
Everyone is doing what he or she is called to do (because yes, some gals are helping out too. See verse 3:12.)
And Lord, what brings tears to my eyes is simply this. Why can’t we believers work this way in the mundane and big tasks of our lives? Why are we, am I, so easily tricked into looking at someone else’s work for You? Why is it so easy for us to compare with others and grow jealous or proud or discouraged? Why can’t we be like the Israelites in this chapter, one big circle of diligence and consecration and love?
I smile to myself through the tears as I ask this question because of course I know why. We’re just a big ole band of redeemed sinners. And we have to confess this day by day.
And then get back to work.
Lord, please keep bringing us back to You through confession so that we all work together for the glory of Your name instead of comparing and back-biting and condemning each other because of different views on issues and jealousies over another’s successes.
Forgive us, Lord!
As a novelist, a whole bunch of gratitude also wells up inside of me as I read this chapter. I’m in the final phase of getting my novel When I Close My Eyes ready for publication. A novel I wrote which has a message that I believe is important for such a time as this.
The gratitude comes because I am not doing it alone!
Yes, I wrote the novel, but my literary agent showed it to publishers and my publisher wrote up the contract and then I handed it off the manuscript to my precious editor who helped me improve and ah-hem shorten and polish it. Then it went to a copy-editor who read it over with eagle eyes for any small errors. And then it went to those who would typeset it and design a beautiful cover. And now the fantastic publicity and marketing team is working hard to get the word out about this novel to reviewers and my savvy and brilliant marketing assistant is helping me organize my social media presence and create buzz and …
You get the picture. Side by side, we’re working together to get this novel out. The truth is, no novel is produced by just one person. Even when I self-published The Long Highway Home, I had a team of people helping me in the background.
As long as we each do our part, the process works. But there are many times throughout the long process of producing a novel when I feel stressed and worried and end up taking on tasks that I’m no good at and which very much slow down the whole process.
That’s when I have to take a deep breath and stand in front of my part of the wall and pray, “Lord, show me what task You have me to complete today. Please help me focus on that task alone for whatever time I have to invest in it. And help me trust You to give me the tools and the wisdom and words for tomorrow. So that the wall gets built one stone at a time and the novel gets published one page at a time for Your glory.”
Where are you being tempted to compare and grow jealous or take on tasks that are not for you today?Side by side, we’re working together to get this novel out. The truth is, no novel is produced by just one person. @EMusserAuthor #ACFWBlogs #writing #writetip Click To Tweet
Elizabeth Musser writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Her new novel, When I Close My Eyes, will be released in November of 2019. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her blog.