When God calls us to do a work for Him, it always pushes us out of our comfort zone. Usually this means His work includes steps of Faith, because the work of God must be accomplished in His strength instead of our own. A work done by faith also ensures that the glory goes to God instead of ourselves.
To lead us towards this act of faith, God often calls us to do a work that we could never accomplish on our own. How we respond to a calling such as this reveals our spiritual maturity.
God had called Nehemiah to do the massive work of rebuilding a wall around Jerusalem. While he knew this was the Will of God, the amount of effort necessary was overwhelming. To make matters worse, Sanballat and Tobiah his enemies made fun of their feeble attempt to rebuild the wall saying they would never get it done (4:1-3).
Though Nehemiah was a great leader I wonder if he was discouraged himself with the amount of work left, I’m sure the other Jews would be that way. But we never hear anything about that discouragement. Instead after asking the Lord to defend them (4:3-4) we read the wall was half finished.
Of course there is a lot of time that passed between 4:4 and 4:5. But the idea we get from the passage is Nehemiah and the Jews focused on the work in front of them instead of worrying about future things.
Within this verse we find what I believe to be a very important principle. God doesn’t want us to focus on the whole job at once [focusing on every detail], instead He wants us to focus on what’s next.
In other words…focus on today ‘s work
When we look at the large work God has given to us with its massive challenges, unanswered questions, and lack of clarity its very easy to become overwhelmed. This leads us to be paralyzed by fear of doing anything because it “won’t make a difference anyway.”
The call of God however isn’t about us fixing all of the problems, it is about submitting to, and trusting Him. So the Biblical response is to do our job [obey God that day] and he will do His job [work everything else out]. In a practical sense that means focusing not on the big picture, but today.
Focusing on today’s work makes us much more effective in the long-run
- It breaks the Will of God down into daily “missions” from Him that we can accomplish
- Gives our lives a deeper purpose because we are plugging ourselves into the plan of God
- Focuses on making things better instead of emphasizing what we cannot accomplish (the job is too big!)
- And it increases confidence
I imagine the Jews didn’t have much confidence their work was making a difference at first. But as day after day passed they began to see physical results in the wall. Once this happened, the work progressed quickly because they people were confident (“they had a mind to work”)
In the same way, when we do todays work instead of worrying about the problems we cannot fix, it not only develops confidence, but it overcomes the issues we have been dreading.
Satan loves to bring anxiety and stress into our lives by focusing on things that haven’t even happened yet. Which makes me wonder how much worry would we save ourselves by not focusing on tomorrow’s work (or next weeks, or next months, or next years) and just finish todays.