What does December represent for you?
Stress. Anxiety. Busyness. Worry. Regret…
Hope. Anticipation. Celebration. Generosity. Joy…
As much as I’d like to admit that my list resembles the second list, there’s a little of both around our house.
December provides a unique time for reflection, looking back on another year past. We revisit both tragedy and triumph, victory and defeat as we reminisce all that was. Additionally, we anticipate all that awaits. A new year promises new opportunities and new beginnings.
However, as we ebb and flow between reflection and anticipation, we find ourselves getting trapped in one arena. Both the success and failure of our past hold the power to keep us stagnant. We’re either brashly overconfident or timidly weak.
The same is true of the future. We spend way too much time worrying about all that might be instead of what is–good and bad. Or, our hope isn’t followed with action, leaving us ineffective.
This year, I’m encouraging myself to embrace both in equal measure: reflection coupled with the power of prayerful hope
And, I’ve found a story to live by.
There’s a small book in the Old Testament called Nehemiah. It will be my roadmap this Christmas.
Israel has fallen, its people are enslaved, and the future looks bleak–yet God is calling His people back to Himself.
Nehemiah is a cupbearer, an average servant, in the King’s palace. An Israelite himself, he is grieving that Jerusalem has been turned to rubble. His heart is heavy with reflection.
Do you know this Nehemiah?
Is there something in your past that looked promising, yet it lay in ruins, destroyed by a diagnosis or a failure. Has your sacred city been seized?
But then again, Nehemiah’s heart is alive with passion to rebuild the wall that signified God’s promise to His people. He is prayerfully hopeful about the future.
Do you know this Nehemiah?
Are you hopeful that, despite the current conditions, something amazing is waiting? Are you ready to rebuild that which has been destroyed?
As the story unfolds, Nehemiah is given a remarkable gift. His earthly king, the one whom he has served diligently, asks him, “What do you want?” Put on the spot, Nehemiah has his opportunity to share his heart’s passion, his hope to rebuild the wall.
The king grants his request and Nehemiah responds with excitement:
“’Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work.” (Neh 2:18)
Nehemiah makes plans and assembles a team to help him achieve his goal. At first they were mocked. Everyone stood around and laughed at their attempt.
“What are they building – even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!” (Neh 4:3)
Nehemiah’s answer is the answer I pray to have when my passions are challenged. When my hope seems lost, I pray that I would proclaim:
“I am doing a great work, I can’t be bothered by you.” (Neh 6:2-4)
What great work are you doing? Are you allowing yourself to be steered off course by those who mock you and don’t believe in your future?
In the end of the story, the wall is rebuilt and the exiles return, a Savior is born and God’s people are redeemed.
As you enjoy this wonderful season, I challenge you to join me in two things:
- Reflect – What walls need rebuilding?
- Envision – If the King asks, “What do you want?” What would you say?
Be like Nehemiah. Find your passion and tell those who mock you, I am doing a great work, I can’t be bothered by you.