Finishing Your Marathon
And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in. ~Nehemiah 6:11
The challenges that we face in life are similar to running a marathon. A marathon is a 26-mile race. It brings together athletes who have trained and prepared themselves for this grueling event. When you run a marathon, you will be tempted many times to quit and throw in the towel. In a similar fashion, the grueling challenges in life will whisper in your ear to give up and discontinue. Nehemiah was working diligently in trying to get the wall of Jerusalem completed and finished. The enemies threw everything at him that they could to get him to stop and quit. This morning, we are looking at the importance of steadfastness and not giving up when things become increasingly difficult.
We see the unbearable contentions.
Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem had feverishly gotten the walls up! There was still a need to establish the gates and doors. The enemies saw that great progress had been made and that the wall project was at the cusp of completion. The enemies intensified their attacks to get Nehemiah to quit. First, they tried the tactic of distraction. They beckoned to him to stop the work and meet them at a city called Ono. When the enemy bids you to Ono, it is time to say, “Oh, no!” Second, they tried the tactic of defamation. They spoke slanderous and disparaging words about Nehemiah and the Jews. Third, they tried the tactic of discouragement. Nehemiah and the people had become very afraid of physical attacks. Then, they tried the tactic of discontinuance. They told a lie that Nehemiah would be killed that night. They told him to stop what he was doing and hide himself in the house of God. Had he done this, it is probable that the work would have halted and never resumed. In life, there will be many unbearable contentions that we will face that will try to get us to quit and not finish our marathon.
We see an undaunting character.
As we read Nehemiah 6, Nehemiah is a man of incredible steadfastness. Consider the characteristics of his steadfastness. First, he was committed to completion. He said, “I cannot come down.” Second, he was committed to prayer. He did not cease from praying for the people and every detail of the project. Third, he had an unwavering faith in God. He knew that God had called and anointed him for this task. Fourth, he would not desert his fellow Jews and hide himself from possible assassination. He said, “Should such a man as I flee?” He was not going to run and hide. He was so close to finishing that he was not about to quit. Steadfastness takes a stand! Steadfastness remains focused! Steadfastness ignores the pain! Steadfastness is fixated on the goal!
We see the unquestionable consummation.
Amazingly, Nehemiah completed the building of the wall, gates, and doors in a record-breaking 52 days! And notice verse 16: "And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God." Their steadfastness resulted in a completed task and a powerful testimony that what was done was nothing short of a work of God! No man got the credit: only God got the credit.
I am reminded of John Stephen Akhwari and the 1968 Olympic Games. He was injured while running the marathon. He finished last, an hour after the winner had already crossed the finish line. When asked why he did not quit, he said, “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.” Finish your marathon! Be steadfast in the face of discouragement, and determine to finish what you have begun!
Have a steadfast God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: John 5-6