The year has just begun and like always people have made new year resolutions. Many of you may have plans and visions you hope to execute in the new year. With any vision comes the following- work, enemies, discouragement, and God’s provision. Every individual with a plan will face these, the prospect of accomplishing the vision depends on success in every step. We will look at the life of a man called Nehemiah and see how he brought a vision to fruition in just 52 days.
Nehemiah was a man with a vision- to restore the ruins of Israel. The year was approximately 423 B.C, Nehemiah was the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes and he approached the king with his vision. God granted him favour in the king’s eye and he was given consent to go rebuild the ruins of Israel. The first thing we notice is that Nehemiah prayed to God (Nehemiah 2:4). Have you taken your heart’s desire to God in prayer or do you think that you can accomplish it in your own strength? The second thing we see is that Nehemiah kept his plans to himself till he had accessed the extent of the work to be done (Nehemiah 2:12,16). Isn’t it true that most of us, excited by the plans the Lord has placed in our hearts, immediately begin to share them with friends and family without first accessing the work to be done? Jesus speaking to His disciples asked them a question “For which of you, intending to build a tower does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it- lest after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him?” (Luke 14: 28-29). Before you begin to share your plans, please count the cost.
Immediately Nehemiah shared his plan with the priests and other high Jewish officials (remember, you cannot achieve your dreams in isolation, you will need PEOPLE), enemies arose, their first approach was to mock and despise Nehemiah’s plan (Nehemiah 2:19), but Nehemiah answered back in confidence- “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us…” (2:20), and God did just that. The people rallied around him and the work on the wall began in earnest. When the enemies of the plan realised that the walls were being restored, they became angry and conspired to attack Jerusalem and create confusion, but like every other time they did so, Nehemiah prayed. You will do well to pray first before reacting to the comments and attacks from enemies of your vision. Remember, you are not in a fight with them, that’s not your work, stay focused on the vision, this is your primary responsibility, let God deal with your enemies. While watching out for the enemy, another setback came in this time from within. The strength of the labourers was failing (4:10), the work was becoming overwhelming, and discouragement set in so much that they declared “we are not able to build the wall.” Get ready to hit this point on your journey toward fulfilling your vision. Discouragement and setbacks are not signs that you are on the wrong path; no, they are unavoidable given that we are humans and we live in a fallen world. You need to do what Nehemiah did. He did not get into a fight with the people who were speaking negatively about his ability to accomplish the task of building the wall, neither did he fire them or tell them to quit if they had no faith, no instead he increased the effort to accomplish the task and encouraged the people (4:14). When the going gets tough, you need to put on your whole armour- pray, fast and stay encouraged, remembering that the Lord, great and awesome will fight for you!
The last lesson we can take from the story of Nehemiah is this- when the enemy tries every means to halt your plan and fails, he will come after your life. His enemies sought to kill him knowing that if they could get him out of the picture, the vision would die a natural death. Five times they invited him over, but he said no, then they resulted to threats, but Nehemiah wouldn’t be moved. Then finally they used one of his own- Shemaiah, but Nehemiah being a man of the Spirit perceived that God had not sent him (he was a secret informer!). Be careful when your vision is near fruition, for the enemy will try all he can at this point to keep it from been materialised. You must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit always to perceive who He has sent to you with a message or who is a secret informer.
The good news is this, after all he went through, the wall was finished in an astounding 52 days, and the news reached their enemies who “were very disheartened in their own eyes, for they perceived that this work was done by our God” (6:16). You too will have good news at the end if you stick it through, and God knowing that glory will return to Him will be with you all the way. So be encouraged, take the first step, assess the plan, invest in prayers, and get worthy men and women to help you all the way and let the adventure begin!