If you're doing a read your Bible in a year plan, chances are you're reading in Nehemiah right now. I've been reading this story of rebuilding Jerusalem's wall with a new fascination. It's as if God is whispering in my ear as I read, asking, "Are you committed to building your marriage like Nehemiah fought to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem?"
Yes, very convicting, yet so comforting in the sense that God loves us that much that He takes the time to show us what we need to do or to prepare us for what's coming. And most importantly that whatever God calls us to, He equips us as well.
That is where I'm at right now—discerning what God is calling me to do in my marriage right now. What many of us are being called to do in our marriages.
Let's take a walk through Nehemiah 1-4.
If you look at the first three chapters, you get an understanding of who Nehemiah was and the calling God put into his life. He was a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, who seemed sensitive to Nehemiah's grief, which in and of itself is unusual because cupbearers where not supposed to show emotion like this. Even the queen is mentioned as being present.
Nehemiah is grieving over the wall of Jerusalem standing in such a state of destruction. An earlier attempt had been made to repair the walls but opposition stopped the efforts and the wall was never finished. The people were defenseless against their enemies and biblical history shows the Jews always had enemies.
The king grants Nehemiah's request to go and over see the wall and get things moving. I believe God was working not just in Nehemiah, but in this king and queen as well to soften their hearts toward the Israelite's cause. Nehemiah not only goes with the king's permission but with a two letters: one to the governors of TransEurphrates requesting safe passage and the other a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, to request the timber needed to rebuild the wall.
God not only called Nehemiah to go and rebuild this wall, God also equipped Nehemiah with the King's favor and materials needed (vs. 8). God called and equipped this man just as he calls and equips us in our mismatched marriages.
Let's jump to chapter four. Verse six says the men built the wall to half its height, “for the people worked with all their heart." I can just see these men totally committed to fulfill this calling. But what about when the opposition came?
There was some serious opposition to the city AND the Israelites’ restoration. Just like we face the enemy's opposition to keep working and stay committed to our mismatched marriages.
These men plotted against Nehemiah, who prayed and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat (4:9).
The voices of opposition chimed in first (4:10). People in Judah pointed out how impossible the task was. The voice of discouragement came to create doubt in the hearts of these men. I imagine their doubts sounded something like this:
Was their task really worth the fight?
Was it really what God wanted?
If this was what God wanted, why were they facing so much opposition? Shouldn't it go smoother than this?
Sound familiar? What doubts are the enemy, your friends, or perhaps even your family speaking into your life right now about your marriage?
Come back Friday for part two of Nehemiah's story. We'll finish our walk with this determined man and see how God fought for him.
Praying and believing,