Neh. 6:1 ¶ Now when it was reported to Sanballat and Tobiah and to Geshem the Arab and to the rest of our enemies that I had built the wall and that there was no gap left in it (though up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates),
Neh. 6:2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm.
Neh. 6:3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?”
Neh. 6:4 They sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner.
Neh. 6:5 In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand.
Neh. 6:6 In it was written, “It is reported among the nations—and Geshem also says it—that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall; and according to this report you wish to become their king.
Neh. 6:7 You have also set up prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, ‘There is a king in Judah!’ And now it will be reported to the king according to these words. So come, therefore, and let us confer together.”
Neh. 6:8 Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done; you are inventing them out of your own mind”
Neh. 6:9 —for they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
Nehemiah and his team of co-laborers were working diligently to rebuild the wall. It took everyone staying on task to get the job done. This, however, was of great consternation to the enemies who thought this plan of the Israelites was foolish. All of a sudden they began to see the project come together and they did not like it at all. Their plan was to distract Nehemiah and the others from their work. Their assumption was that if they could get them to stop, if the momentum would die down, then the project would stumble and never be completed.
They sent note after note, trying to distract Nehemiah from his work. They tried to feed on his ego — surely he would want to come and have a meeting with these leaders! Nope! He told them that what he was doing was a great work and he valued it above getting to hang out with people who thought highly of themselves. This, of course, irritated these foreign leaders and they sent more notes trying to distract him from the work in which he was engaged.
Finally they resorted to scare tactics, hoping that they could get the Israelites to stop. Instead, Nehemiah looked to the Lord and asked God to strengthen his hands — so that he could persevere and continue to do God’s work, ignoring the distractions.
Distractions are so very real. They come at us in all forms of things, but generally keep us from accomplishing the tasks which lie before us. Distractions can be good things and bad things, but the question is how we will deal with them.
There is a very practical question here for many of us probably have long to-do lists in life and it may be that a number of those items have never been completed because there have simply been too many distractions. Life comes along and it keeps us from doing the things that we thought we would get done.
Spiritually we have the same issue. We have good intentions about the priority of our spiritual lives but then there are distractions that come and derail us. Somehow there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to do the things that we thought we would do for the Lord or with the Lord.
Nehemiah didn’t let anything distract him from what he saw as his primary responsibility. He refused to allow the temptations of the world to get him off task. He angered the leadership around him because he was so focused on what he believed God wanted him to do.
What would happen if I lived my Christian life like that? What if I refused to allow the distractions of this world to keep me from the task of knowing God? We were created to be in fellowship with God, to get to know him and be united with him. If we don’t make that the number one priority in our lives, it won’t happen! There will never be enough time, and there will never be enough resources. However, if we refuse to allow other things to become distractions, even the seemingly good intentions of leaders and family — then we can complete the task. We can continue on this journey and be united with Christ in ways we would never even have imagined.
Distractions will always come at us but to know Christ we must resist and persevere.
Lord, please help me to deal well with the distractions of this day. Amen.