Broke Walls 7 - Final Thoughts
Whenever I read Nehemiah’s account of his rebuilding of Jerusalem’s city wall, I am struck by the fact that he was part of a plan that spans eternity; a plan which, during this phase, is dependent on people who have been willing to listen to God, and those who will remain willing to listen until that unknown point in the future when God will bring time as we know it to an end.
As a child, I was fascinated by John Ellerton’s hymn ‘The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended’, particularly the words of verse 2:
We thank Thee that Thy church, unsleeping,
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping,
And rests not now by day or night.
What grabbed me, I think, was my mind’s picture of different people endlessly moving into sunlight as the earth rotated, so that prayer and praise were continuous and unbroken – as the hymn goes on to say, ‘The voice of prayer is never silent, Nor dies the strain of praise away’. It somehow comforted me as I fell asleep to think that I was handing the baton on to other people.
Simultaneously with writing the Nehemiah blogs, I have been writing a children’s book, the preparation for which involved ordering and studying the stories of people in the Old Testament. As I read the familiar stories in succession, I was inspired by the willingness of these people to act for God: Noah risking ridicule; Abraham stepping out into the complete unknown; Joseph, the spoilt little rich kid who became one of Egypt’s greatest governors; Moses, perhaps the most reluctant leader ever; Joshua and Gideon claiming victory for God; Ruth, a Moabite who chose God and so became Christ’s ancestor; Samuel asking God to speak because he was listening; David, Israel’s greatest king; Daniel living for God as a legal alien; Ezra rebuilding the Temple; Nehemiah rebuilding the wall; Esther’s courage in saving her people. There were the prophets: Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Haggai, Zechariah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, all willing to forgo personal comfort to work for God. These were ordinary people who did extraordinary things for God. They handed their stories about God’s faithfulness down through the generations. They looked back on those stories to claim God’s promises.
And so it is for us. We feel very ordinary. But if we are willing to listen to God, he will work through us in our workplaces to achieve extraordinary things; work that will continue until, at God’s behest, a new heaven and earth are formed. Wrapped around the earth as it rolls ceaselessly onward into light is a continuous and unbroken thread woven by people working for God’s kingdom. You and I are part of a timeless plan. We took the baton from those before us. We will pass it on to those who follow, just as those Old Testament people did.
So as I end the thoughts about Nehemiah, can I encourage you to remain a Repairer of Walls (Isaiah 58:12), one who confesses the sin of their people until they reach their own point of confession, one who works to bring colleagues into God’s kingdom, one who covets their gifts for God’s eternal work plan. Because as the last verse of Ellerton’s hymn reminds us:
So be it, Lord; Thy throne shall never,
Like earth’s proud empires, pass away:
Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,
Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.
Other blogs by Gill Robins