Summary: We need to take care of oursleves as well as others.
In April this past year, some of you may have seen on the news, pictures of this horrific train crash in Japan. “The seven-car commuter train was carrying 580 passengers when it jumped the tracks, wrecking an automobile in its path before slamming into a nine-story apartment complex just yards away. Two of the four derailed cars were flattened against the wall of the building.” After the crash, the final count listed at least 95 people dead, 458 people injured, and a number of others still missing.
I think the most alarming aspect of this fatal crash is the fact that it could have been completely prevented. 95 people today could still have their lives if it wasn’t for one misjudgment. 458 people wouldn’t have to live with the horrifying reminder every time they wake up with aches or pains, or worse yet, debilitating injuries, due to a careless and selfish mistake.
Due to the fact that the operator had overran the previous station and had to back up, he fell 90 seconds behind schedule. Knowing he could be fired for a mistake like that and causing major problems being even 90 seconds off, the operator quickly tried to recover on a straight away. Accelerating to almost 65 mph, which was 30 mph over the speed limit, the train reached the end of the straight away and was going too fast when it hit the corner and derailed.
Today, many of our lives are a lot like this train. We are running our lives at insane speeds as we are running all over the place. As we have mentioned in previous weeks, we have so many things that we are doing that leave us sprinting through our day from as soon as we wake up until we go to bed. If we are not careful though, we will find ourselves in the same predicament that this train found itself in. If we are to be used by God to our fullest potential we need to learn the lesson that speed is not always the best thing and that there is great value in slowing down. This is something that Nehemiah knew very well as he arrived in Jerusalem. Let’s look at two important things that he did when he arrived there by opening our Bible’s to Nehemiah 2:11-18.
***Read Nehemiah 2:11-18***
As Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem, notice what the first thing that he does is. He rests for three days! Verse 11 tells us that he arrives in Jerusalem and then it wasn’t until three days later that he starts doing anything. This seems really odd by most of today’s standards. I mean, Nehemiah has special permission from the King of Persia to go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Not only does he just have permission but he also has the kings promise of protection in his travels AND the promise of materials to rebuild the wall. Nehemiah also knew that this was what God wanted him to do because he knew God has changed the heart of the King to make all of those things happen.
Having said all of this, why didn’t Nehemiah just run right into Jerusalem and rally all the people to action and start building right away? At least he could have held a press conference or put the people into groups and started to give orders. Instead he rested, because he knew he needed to take care of himself before he could attempt to change the world around him. Nehemiah knew that if he had come in to Jerusalem at a million miles an hour and didn’t slow down and take care of himself, he would have crashed emotionally and physically and never would have been able to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
This is the first lesson of slowing down that we need to learn in our lives. All too often we pile our schedules up with too many things to do that we never have time for ourselves to rest. Often times, the things that we are doing are very good things that are pleasing to God and can make a difference but when we don’t take care of ourselves we will eventually burn out and not make as big a difference as we could have if we had taken time to rest.
***Illustration with a cup of water***
So, Nehemiah rests for three days and then when that is up he goes out an immediately starts the building process and….wait a minute. No he doesn’t. The second thing that Nehemiah does is he gets to know the area and he comes up with a plan. We see this in verses 12-16. Nehemiah goes out at night, so as to no be seen, and takes only a few men with him. Notice though that he doesn’t even tell those men what he is doing. For all they know, they are just going on an evening walk. Nehemiah proceeds to walk around the city inspecting the damage to walls and coming up with the best plan of how to rebuild them.