Summary: Sixth in a series in the book of Nehemiah. This message is designed to move the series and the congregation to a point of commitment.
Soren Kierkegaard wrote, “What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know. The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do. . .to find the idea for which I can live and die.”
Or as Robert Lewis rights in his awesome book The Church of Irresistible Influence, “More than by decades or centuries, history is marked by great ideas; that is, when someone, placed in a unique culture and circumstance, stands up and says, ‘What if we believed – and acted upon – this?’ Luther’s idea of grace. Ghandi’s idea of nonviolent resistance. Ford’s idea of efficiency. Hitler’s idea of nationalism. Einstein’s idea of relativity. Jesus’ idea of the church. An idea is more than a starting point; in a deep sense it is everything. An idea strong enough to spark imagination, inspire sacrifice, build faith, and encourage perseverance is the most powerful human force on the planet. It has the power to determine the future – for good and for bad.”
Have you found that idea? As we have explored the book of Nehemiah, and attempted to walk through a process together of focusing in on the vision God has for your life. . .what is that passion, that area of concern, that idea for which you can live and die?
You have heard me repeat over the past few weeks the desire to have you clearly define that vision for your life. I’ve talked about it possibly being for your marriage, your children, your career, or any other area of your personal life. I’ve also suggested that you define that vision for your role and ministry here at SWC. Like we talked about last week: not those good things that are out there, but that great thing that you will not be deterred from.
I want you to get that vision as clearly in your mind as you can today, because today is a day of commitment. It is a day when we are going to look at the reality of vision fulfillment, and then commit to paying the price to see God’s vision for your life fulfilled.
Because it is great to talk about vision. It is great to throw some things around as possible visions. But there comes a time when we have to commit to the vision. When we take an honest look at the sacrifices, the risks, the things that we will be called to give up in the realm of the “good” to pursue the great. Seeing God’s vision for your life fulfilled will require great courage and confidence that you are following His path for your life.
I have a list of 100 things I hope to do before I die. I’m not on a very good pace so far. Almost 37 years down, only three things crossed off the list. But I still intend to complete as many of them as I can. One of those items on my list is to sky dive. To jump out of a plane with a parachute. I don’t know if you realize this or not. . .but you don’t “sort of” parachute. You are either in the plane, or you are not. You do it, or you don’t.
That is how it is with fulfilling a vision. David didn’t “sort of” challenge Goliath. Peter didn’t “sort of” get out of the boat to walk to Jesus on the water. Paul did not “sort of” head out on his missions trips to the Gentile nations. And Nehemiah didn’t get a wall built because he and the people “sort of” bought into the vision.
Look at Nehemiah 2:17 (read through verse 18). Another version says, “So they put their hands to the good work.” In other words, they committed to the vision.
Now, I know what it is like in 2005. It is easy for us to read a story like this, and take one of two approaches. The first approach is that we simply do not consider the human elements in the story. We never even think about these people that are building the wall. For example, did any of them have small children? What did they do with them while they were working? What happened when mom and dad were at the wall, and little Johnny’s diaper needed changing? What happened when mom and dad were building the wall and little Sam and Sarah got into a fight over a toy? We never even think about the implications of building this wall in the lives of those who are pursuing the vision.
Think about the life change for Nehemiah. He wasn’t getting criticized and taunted by Sanballat and Tobiah back in the palace. He didn’t have to guard himself against death threats. He didn’t have to deal with grumblers and complainers. Opposition and attack. But when we read a story like this in 2005, we rarely consider the human elements in the story.