How do you eat a whole cow*? It seems an impossible task given the size of the animal and the limitations of our digestive systems.
Many projects can seem rather like that. There’s so much to be done with a finite resource, alongside pressing deadlines that can’t be extended.
It’s may not even be a question of pressing forwards right away: there’s often more questions to be answered, ground to be cleared and clarity to be established before you can begin to bring anything new to the table.
That’s when we have to separate the important from the urgent and to make sure we know what it is we are really dealing with. After all, it’s no good having a great plan that answers the questions no one is actually asking. What’s needed is an honest appraisal of how things are and the inspiration and encouragement of a gifted leader, to make things happen.
If we wait upon God, there is no danger. If we rush on, He must let us see the consequences of it. (J N Darby)
Pause for thought
- How can we look beyond the ruins to see the vision to which God has called us?
- What (or who) might inspire you to take on a task you previously considered impossible?
- How does God encourage us to be involved in something very special?
- Why is it important for us to encourage one another?
On occasions, the things we face look like less uphill tasks and more like the impossible. Nehemiah had been challenged by God, he had prayed, the way had been made clear for him and now here he was confronting the ruins of Jerusalem.
The task of building was immense, and Nehemiah could have jumped in with both feet and began right away. But his actions on coming to Jerusalem revealed Nehemiah as a careful planner with a shrewd sense of God's timing. Nothing in the words we read suggests that Nehemiah would have abandoned the job if he found the project too daunting. Rather, he waited for the right time to announce his plans, having first acquainted himself with the lay of the land, he was ready to answer questions and capitalise on people's enthusiasm.
To think about:
Looking around (Nehemiah 2: 11 – 15)
- Please read Nehemiah 2 verses 11 to 20. What did Nehemiah do when he first arrived in Jerusalem?
- How would this help him in the task that was about to undertake?
- GHBC is seeking to connect with our local community, sharing Jesus with everyone regardless of background, age or status. What do we need to know about our community in order to do this and, what remains to be discovered?
- What first steps would you take if you were considering for the first time the ways in which GHBC can live out our faith in this local area?
Riding round the walls, Nehemiah can now see for himself the scale of the destruction. Free from the interruptions of well meaning team members, he now has a good understanding of what is required if the walls are to be rebuilt.
His work will be far broader than simply a bit of Urban Regeneration. Only a remnant of a once proud and powerful nation remains. Their heads are down as they can see no way out of their circumstances: there’s no real hope just the prospect of a city and a people drifting into extinction. The heart of a nation - its people - must now be rebuilt alongside the city which will again be a symbol of faith and hope.
To think about:
Shared values: team spirit (Nehemiah 2: 16 – 20)
- Please reread verses 16 to 20. How does Nehemiah inspire the people to join in with God’s big plan?
- Where we would see the “gracious hand of God” (vv. 18), at work in GHBC?
- If you are able, please share how you/we have been blessed.
- Not everyone is on board with the new plan: if it succeeds it will have a significant impact on the power base of Sanballat and Tobiah. How do they express their concerns? How should we deal with opposition where it opposes what we believe to be God’s will?
* It’s not that hard really. The way to eat a whole cow is a bit at a time.