Why Fill In The Gap, When No One Cares But God?
Nehemiah was never going to stay in Israel. He couldn’t. It wasn’t even his choice. He had a job to do in Persia. He was too valuable to the King. Staying was not an option. But that didn’t stop his heart from beating for God’s people and God’s burden. So he arranged a leave of absence.
Nehemiah’s personal sacrifice was two-fold. He left his family behind in Persia in order to ensure that he would come back, and he left his work in Israel in order to ensure that he was personally connected even while he was away.
Nehemiah was one who was called to sacrifice and to be sacrificed. He was on an assignment. He was given permission to go to Israel in order to re-build their wall of defence because it was causing humiliation. He was so invested in his assignment that he positioned himself in the the work, literally. He lived there. No matter how many times he was persuaded to come down to take on addtional tasks, he would not come down until the work was done.
Nehemiah knew that there was no time to waste because the King was waiting on him to return. He was in his own land and never got the opportunity to enjoy it, never got to revel over it like a tourist, because he had to finish what he was sent to do. Finishing the wall was a personal victory. The fact is that by the time Nehemiah returned again, his work would have already been disfigured and discouraged. The people would disperse again, and apathy would re-appear. Then, eventually, the wall would fall again and so would the temple. So the question comes to me, why?
Why bother spending your time being concerned about something that simply doesn’t matter to anyone else? Why build a wall that will fall again? Why be concerned about a temple that will be destroyed eventually? Why do anything about anything at all? Then it comes to me: Because it is burdening the Father. That’s why.
We don’t always understand, do we? Sometimes we simply must do what God tells us to do because it is the right thing to do regardless of whether or not anyone else cares at all. The fact of the matter is that if Nehemiah did not take on the task, he would not have inspired those who came after him. And there would have been no temple for Jesus to walk into and open up the book and read from Isaiah.
Nehemiah said these small words, “Lord, remember what I did.”
I thought it was odd that he would record these private thoughts. Then I realized, in line with our reading of Statute this week, how appropriate it was. The personal sacrifice for Nehemiah was that no one really cared about the effort. No one really regarded what it took out of his personal life to get involved in something so far away and so removed from him now. And so he appealed to the Most High God, “Even though it is not important to anyone, please remember that I did what was important to you.”
And I believe that God remembered Nehemiah; even as he lived out his days in Persia. God remembered that Nehemiah found the breach: No one cared- not those in Persia and not those in Israel. And Nehemiah filled in the gap, by caring. He filled it in with– himself.
And you know what happend? Others cared. Every generation there was someone who cared about the condition of the walls of defence in Israel. And God took note of it.