January 24, 2020
13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
Nehemiah is on a nighttime mission to see for himself how badly damaged the walls of Jerusalem actually are. We trace his journey around the city of Jerusalem. You have to appreciate his commitment here, because his nighttime reconnaissance is not easy. He heads out the Valley gate towards the Dung gate, which was essentially the gate where garbage and animal refuse was brought out of the city. After working his way past the city dump, he turns towards the Fountain Gate, where the wall is in such a state of disrepair that his horse cannot get through. It seems like his plan was to travel all the way around the city, but he can’t. Nehemiah heads up the valley instead and is finally forced to turn back to re-enter where he started.
Doing something significant requires a lot of effort. Can you see Nehemiah and his horse picking their way across the rubble in the dark? Can you see them turning around not once, but twice in their journey as their path is blocked by rubble and difficult terrain? On Monday we tried to start seeing difficulties as a part of God’s answer to prayer, a part of the process.
What difficult task is in front of you? The restoration of a relationship? Holding on to a resolution in the new year? Finishing your degree? Taking a promotion? Maybe the difficult task in front of you is loving your kids or your spouse. It could be you’ve had to turn around several times, and it’s starting to feel hopeless.
What should you do? Let’s ask God to strengthen us for the difficult work ahead. And let’s lean on the people around us to help us keep moving forward in God’s plan.