There are lots of distractions to keep us from the course God has set us on. There are enjoyable distractions and there are unpleasant distractions. Both veer us in the wrong direction.
I’m going to guess and say that inspirational writers feel a calling by God to spin tales–a message is threaded into every line of the story, one that will bring others closer to Jesus and glorify Him. Am I right? You’re all nodding. Thanks!
Distractions come in many forms. Today we’re talking about distractions from detraction. Maybe if you’re an author it’s rotten reviews of your precious baby. You spend time stewing over them and using your gift of words to conjure up just the right concoction to go off on someone who cut your work to bits. Please don’t! 🙂
A year ago, a distraction popped up in my world. An ugly one. I knew my part in it was innocent, but it ate at me. I lost focus for a time on the big picture because of words that were slung at me, about me. “Jane” brought me into focus. She told me, “This is a distraction. It’s keeping you from doing what God wants you to do. Which is write. Read Nehemiah. Get your focus back and let it go. It isn’t worth it.”
She was right. Let’s look at the man with the plan. Nehemiah. A man of focus, integrity, and determination. That’s a man worth studying.
Nehemiah was born in captivity. He became the cupbearer for the king. A highly repectable position. Many times the way to kill a king was through his cup of wine.
When he found out that the rebuilding wasn’t going well in Jerusalem, he asked the king if he could go and oversee it. The king gave him everything he asked for and sent him on a 1000 mile, probably about 4 months one way, journey to Jerusalem.
While he was there, 3 men decided to thwart his plans to rebuild. Sanballet-afraid of losing power in Samaria, Tobiah the Ammonite, Sanballet’s closest advisor and greedy to keep two of the cities his people had taken over since the running out of the Jews, and Geshem, an Arab leader of a great troop led by Sanballet–who buttered his bread.
These men gathered a group together to mock and persecute Nehemiah, the people, and their efforts.
Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever man sows, that he will also reap.”
Nehemiah was doing God’s work. They were slandering God, not Nehemiah, whether they realized or not. Be careful what you say about someone’s work or ministry. I’ve had to learn the hard way. I don’t want that for you.
When things were said against Nehemiah, he went to the Lord in prayer.
The enemy responded with creating confusion. Well of course he did! But 1 Corinithians 14:33 says, “God is not the author of confusion but of peace.” James 3:16 says, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”
Not everyone will love what you’re doing, or what you’re trying to accomplish. A very wise woman told me, “God will surround you with those who will celebrate you and what you’re doing. Toss out the rest.” This includes bad reviews that hurt your feelings, family/friends who think what you’re doing is a pipe dream, a waste of time, a ridiculous idea. Don’t let it become a distraction.
Nehemiah knew they weren’t done yet, so he put a watch against the enemies. 2 Corinthians 2:11, “…For we are not unaware of his (devil) schemes…” 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Pay attention. The enemy will use distractions to throw you off course, to discourage you, to try and get you to give up. Unfortunately, he’ll use willing vessels to do it (I am not talking possession, people!) like family, church family even. You aren’t fighting them. You’re fighting the unseen enemy. You know what he’s up to…watch for it!
The persecution tired them. Weakened them from what they were supposed to be doing and caused doubt. Nehemiah 4. Nehemiah reminded them, “Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight…”
This was their inheritance. This was their promise. Don’t give up. Whatever the Lord has called you to, fight for it! Even if you have to build with one hand and hold a weapon in the other. Which is what Nehemiah had them do. 4:16-18.
Strap on that sword, keep it nearby to remind you God is working on your behalf. He’s fighting for you. Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell richly in all wisdom, teaching, admonishing one another.”
Be a Nehemiah. Encourage someone who is struggling from distraction.
The enemy used fear as a distraction. Nehemiah 6:9. “For this reason they were hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report…”
Fear didn’t work in Nehemiah, and their plots failed. Job 5:12, “He frustrates the devices of the crafty so that their hands cannot carry out their plans.”
Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him… for He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Nehemiah 6:15 says the wall was completed in 52 days and the enemies realized it was the work of the Lord. 52 days! With one hand, fighting the enemy, carrying heavy boulders? Oh yes! Because it was the Lord’s work. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it, unless the Lord guards the city, the watchmen stay awake in vain.” Psalm 127:1
Don’t give up. “…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing you labor not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
Don’t let distractions keep you from the work!
I leave you with a Psalm written about captivity’s end. A verse we can all say or sing when our work is accomplished. When it’s finished. When it’s ready and out there.