Faith, Focus, Finish!

Manteo Mitchel (left) of the USA team. Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images
In this series of posts on Nehemiah, we see the character of God revealed through Nehemiah’s actions in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. After receiving from King Artaxerxes permission to rebuild, he engaged the Jewish people saying “you see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.”  I told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “let us start rebuilding.”  So they began this good work. (Neh. 2:17, 18)

Throughout the account of Nehemiah we see his faith, his focus, and his passion to finish a good work. 

His faith is revealed as he told them that the hand of God was upon him.  He prayed at least eleven times regarding the rebuilding of the walls.  From beginning to end, whether it was his response to opposition or the need to encourage the people, he spoke words of faith that revealed a heart of faith. Revealed faith is the outward manifestation of inner transformation. Every leader must have faith to lead, faith to encourage, and faith to finish the good work to which God has called you.

Nehemiah’s focus is first revealed as he spoke of the specific work to be done; ‘come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem’. He engaged the people with that same focus; rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. These rock walls were originally 8 feet thick. Tens of thousands of the rocks lay scattered and strewn about the city. The wooden gates, hinges and framing were burned beyond repair. The city was not a city. It was a collection of buildings without walls of protection for community and without an identity.  It was a disgrace. Nehemiah did not repair other buildings… not houses, not streets, and not market places. He focused on the walls! Leaders must be focused toward the good work God has for you.  Without focus you will scatter your energy, water down your vision, and diminish the impact and effectiveness of your ministry. 

A passion to finish is revealed in the emotional description of the condition of the city;  you see the trouble we are in’; Jerusalem lies in ruins, it’s gates are burned; we will no longer be in disgrace.  Nehemiah wept, fasted, prayed, repented, and humbled himself in so many ways because of the heart wrenching knowledge that his beloved home town was defenseless, vulnerable, and in disgrace. Every leader must come to a place of great humility, sometimes disgraced in the eyes of men, before there emerges a refined heart and a finishing passion. It is from this heart and passion that God’s plan goes forth to finish the work to which we are called. Humility emerges from burning away superficial cares and extraneous distractions of the world. It allows the silver and gold handiwork of God’s kingdom to come through us. 

A recent event from the Olympics in London reflects these principles found in Nehemiah. An American sprinter named Mitchell was in the 4X400 meter relay (1600 meters).  In the semi-final qualifying race, Mitchel broke his lower leg half way through his part of the race. The leg was completely fractured! Normal men would have stopped, writhed in pain, and failed to finish thus losing the race. However Mitchell ran on and finished his segment handing the baton to his teammate who went on to win the race and qualify for the finals. A doctor said that if Mitchell would have taken two or three more steps the broken bone would have burst through the skin of his leg. The relay team, with a replacement for Mitchell, went on to win the silver medal in the finals.  When asked by the media what drove him to continue running in such pain, he said his lifestyle is shaped by 3 words; Faith, Focus, Finish. What an inspiring account of commitment to finishing! 

Mitchell is a modern day Nehemiah pushing beyond opposition; pushing beyond normal, pushing beyond the realm of the natural into the supernatural to finish a ‘good work’! You can be a Nehemiah! You have faith. You have focus. You MUST finish the work of your calling; the work of bringing God’s kingdom through you!

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