Intention is a funny thing. Setting goals is easy, but if you’re anything like me, it’s the completion of the goal that gives us trouble. We can become resolved in our plan to work on our health, build the strength of our marriage, or take the steps necessary to grow in our faith or leadership abilities. We might set a goal to get out of debt, or change habits that no longer fit the lifestyle God has for us, but it is never long before we face some type of opposition to our plan of intention.
Good intentions are often met with great opposition. Just look at Jesus – He had the best of intentions (Hey, I’m offering to be the way of salvation) but was met with severe opposition throughout His entire three-year-ministry. Before He departed, He promised His followers’ they too, would experience opposition; it would be part of life (John 16:33). How we handle our encounters with opposition determines how well we understand the role persistence plays in our God-given identity. To grow as leaders and individuals, in the way God intends, we must resist the urge to quit when opposition threatens to stand in our way.
Nehemiah offers us his example as someone who persisted through numerous encounters with opposition when God sent him to Jerusalem to rebuild a wall. Nehemiah was a captive in Persia, and cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, when he received word of the devastation his homeland of Jerusalem was in. The city wall was broken, the gates to the wall had been burned, and those who survived the Persian invasion, remaining in Jerusalem, found themselves in great distress and trouble (Nehemiah 1). Why did this news cause so much stress to Nehemiah? After all, he held a prominent position within the king’s cabinet; he was a high-ranking official. Most likely, he had never been to Jerusalem as Susa was over 700 miles. This would have taken several months of travel. Nehemiah was broken at the news because he understood the significant message a ruined wall sent to the nations. He knew the suffering was great and the reflection on God was poor. It was believed the adequacy of a nation’s wall was a sign of the strength of their God. A weak wall was perceived as a weak God. And Nehemiah knew His God was not weak.
Life was difficult for the Jewish people who had first been granted permission to return to Jerusalem under the rule of Cyrus of Persia. The difficulty was due, in a large part, to the condition of the wall. This is a good reminder for us that when life becomes difficult, we might want to do a wall check. God doesn’t oppose walls. In fact, He was the One to send Nehemiah back to Jerusalem to rebuild a wall. But, the enemy designs walls, too. He likes us to use mortar made from misunderstandings, and misaligned viewpoints to construct walls around the wounds of our heart. He’d like us to build a wall designed to keep people away, and yes, push God out, as well.
God wants to help us design a wall of protection. When we build a God-ordained wall—according to His standard for construction—we become equipped to keep the enemy out of the territory God has given us. A God-built wall sets a guard at the gate, and refuses to allow the enemy access.
How does your life reflect the strength of the God you serve to those outside your wall? When life becomes a struggle research the condition of your wall. Is it God-built or enemy-built? Is God the One placing the bricks along your wall of protection, or has the enemy snuck in and put up walls of pride? Fear? Doubt? Division? Unbelief?
Persistent wall checks help keep us in check. God created you to #BU-Persistent.