Nehemiah, a great man from the old testament, lived a comfortable life. He was a cupbearer to the king. Even though Nehemiah lived in exile this position was one of honor and trust. One day Nehemiah heard news about the conditions of Jerusalem and those who dwelt there. He was depressed. The scriptures say, he “sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God”(Nehemiah 1:4) The Persian King noticed and questioned Nehemiah’s sorrow. Nehemiah replied, “Why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ [graves], lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?”(Nehemiah 2:3.) The King’s heart was touched by Nehemiah’s story and gave him permission and supplies to return to Jerusalem to build the wall. They must have been good friends.
Nehemiah was elated to be going to fulfill his destiny but not everyone shared his enthusiasm. Many leaders who lived near Jerusalem grieved “that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.(Nehemiah 2:10) They even went as far to take “great indignation, and mocked the Jews” (Nehemiah 4:1).
Courageously Nehemiah was not distracted by there mocking sneers. But focused his energy on the work that needed to be done. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught “opposition turns up almost anyplace something good has happened” (“Remember How You Felt,” Aug. 2004). They needed to finish building the wall. He organized several groups of people working on small sections of the wall at the same time.
But like any good thing you are doing, as the work moves forward the opposition always seems to increase too. (Sometimes that is how I know I am right on track because everything seems to be working against me.)Even Nehemiah was beginning to be afraid. But like any good Christian (I know he was a Jew) he might have remembered the teaching of the prophets that a correct knowledge of the Savior can banish any fear. In spite of all the opposition to this work the rebuilding continued. But it was almost like they had a trawl in one hand and a sword in the other, so intense was the opposition. Every time they asked him, he responded with the same answer: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.( Nehemiah 6:3 )
Nehemiah refused to become distracted from what the Lord wanted him to do. What an amazing example. Sometimes I feel in my life that the distractions come too easily. That I welcome them in so that I don’t have to have the responsibility any more. I hold the excuses close and cuddle them like a warm distracting blanket. I invite them in like old friends and sit down and share a hot cocoa with them.
Can you even fathom the idea of leaving the kings cushy palace to be fighting and building up Jerusalem’s walls? But do we realize the difference a little courage could do in our lives not to mention the lives of others? What are we willing to give up to assist in God’s work?
Elder Uchtdorf said, “Think of the power we would have as individuals … if, in response to every temptation to lose focus or lower our standards… we responded, ‘I am doing a great work and cannot come down.’
“The Lord seeks to enlist unfaltering souls who diligently go about the work of building the kingdom of God—those who, when faced with opposition and temptation, say in their hearts, ‘I am doing a great work and cannot come down.’
“When faced with trial and suffering, they respond, ‘I am doing a great work and cannot come down.’
“When faced with ridicule and reproach, they proclaim, ‘I am doing a great work and cannot come down.’
“Our Heavenly Father seeks those who refuse to allow the trivial to hinder them in their pursuit of the eternal.(“We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down,” Ensign 2009).
What trivial moments are distracting me from the pursuit of my eternal goals? Have you ever phrased it like that? Would it be tv, social media, gossiping, fault finding, or anger ? What cushy things am I willing to leave behind that I can build the amazing wall in 52 days!
The Lord still “seeks those who will not allow the attraction of ease … to distract them from the work He has given them to perform.”(Uchtdorf, 2009)
Will you be one of His sons and daughters who replies, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down?”