Sometimes you just have to say it.
It’s not enough to think it. You actually have to say it out loud. With those first two steps down, you then have to say it where people can hear you.
It’s a word that I hated, that leaders I’ve met hate too much. I’ve come to know that a well placed “no” can be ordained by God and is often the key element in accomplishing what He’s called you to do. Know “no.” It will bless you and your calling.
When my brother told me about Jerusalem, I wept. How could the people that God loves so much, be in such disarray? Mourning led to resolve, and through grief and prayer I felt my heart temper into a divine purpose to act.
With the call of heaven and the blessing of my king I gathered resources and a team of people and went to the city that He had put on my heart. I was their leader and they looked to me for decisions and guidance. It was a wonderfully terrifying time in my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
When we surveyed the city it was like I was looking into the soul of our nation. We were broken, covered in rubble, devastated completely. It was impossible to bear. We had to do something. So I gathered my people and made the call.
Let’s rebuild the wall.
The response came from somewhere deep within us. With one voice we agreed and set to organize the project as best we could. The broken stones before us combined with the vision to rebuild became the hope that things can change, that our walls of lives could live again.
Things went well, better than I could have hoped in fact, and it was clear that God was aiding our effort. Families were each working on their section of the wall and it was coming together. Those early weeks were filled with hope and sweat.
At some point, and there just isn’t any other way to say it, we were tired. In any large project, there comes a point where it seems like it will never end. Clearing the rubble was cumbersome and the cycle of clearing versus the cycles of building were all but impossible to manage. In addition, we were afraid of being attacked before the wall could be completed. People were losing heart. The work was slowing. They were asking me for help, asking me for a break in the effort.
It was the first time I had to say, “no.” That was harder than I thought it would be, I was exhausted too.
Stopping the work to rest and reset wasn’t the right way to go. We were at such a delicate and vulnerable time in the process. Stopping would have been defeat, but we did need to change our approach. We had to work differently to protect the people involved.
I set guards to protect our families. I had workers carrying tools in one hand and a sword in the other. I constantly encouraged our folks to not lose heart, to not give up, to not be afraid. God was with us. He would help us. He would protect us.
We hit the halfway point and it turned a corner. Suddenly there was less work left to do than we had already accomplished and the possibility of actually completing the wall filled us with renewed determination. At that point, neighboring leaders, threatened by our progress, sent me a request for a meeting.
It was the opportunity for my second, “no.”
I was tempted though. Maybe I could stall them, or distract them, or reassure them or talk them out of attacking us long enough to get the walls to a position of strength. I wasn’t unfamiliar with the political posturing of such attempts but somehow I felt strongly that I should stay. Four more times they approached me, threatened me, tried to slander what I was doing.
Four times I gave them a polite and deliberate, “no.”
My people needed me more. God’s work needed me more than my own ego needed to say, “yes” and try to talk down our opposition.
In seven weeks and three days we built a wall. It was three stories high and more than a mile in circumference. It was miraculous. It was clearly not something we could have accomplished on our own. It was the second best thing God did that year.
For in seven weeks and three days, something even more amazing happened. God called us back to Himself. We read His words to us and renewed the promise and agreement He made with our fathers. It was the most marvelous “yes” of my life.
But the provision, the miracle, the redemption of our generation was set free by a single word. I believe that if I had not found the strength to say it God would have found another way to build the wall.
It wouldn’t have been through me. A single word was my strength and the key to releasing God’s power in my life:
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. (The Account of Nehemiah, 6)
Devotional Thought for the Day
Nehemiah pushed through what seems like an impossible feat. God provided in every area of need so that the project was complete in only 52 days. Impossible without Him! Are there places in your ministry right now that look impossible? Is God trying to do something through you that can only be accomplished by His presence and help? Are there any projects you are currently leading that when finished, you’ll confidently say, “Only God could’ve done that!”?