What Difference Do You Make?

10:39 AMHeather

Being a SAHM is a glamorous life, I tell you. It's chock full of exciting things like doing laundry, looking at unfolded laundry, wishing the laundry would fold itself, digging through said laundry to find what I want to wear, and then finally, giving in to folding it. 

There's meal preparations and grocery shopping. Because my people eat. Day after stinking day. And no longer just three meals a day. No sir. Not with two teenage boys and one preteen girl who can match her brothers, bite for bite. It's like the Hobbit over here with second breakfast and elevenses. Not to mention the two or three dinners that go down between the hours of 4 and midnight. 

And, there's clean up and convincing the kids to clean up. And then debating if it's worth convincing the kids to clean up or just doing it myself.

There's bills to pay and errands to run. And, all of it is about to ramp up next week with the start of school when our lazy days of summer switch into a higher gear, faster pace, and increased demands. I'm bracing myself for the onslaught of forms and papers and emails and such from the schools, with requests for $5.40 for some magazine subscription they'll read in science. The constant juggling of three lunch accounts.  And the forms I need to get signed by the doctor to leave my kid's inhaler and migraine rescue meds with the nurse.

But hey--it's not all bad. I feel like I deserve a retirement party. Because, with my adios to elementary school days, I'm leaving the darn reading logs behind.

So long, reading responses and daily folder signing! I won't miss you one tiny bit.
 Maybe you're not a SAHM mom. Maybe you're a working mom, or not married or don't have kids, and you find yourself working day in and day out, punching the time card. Maybe you're retired. Or in the midst of a big crisis or transition. And the monotony of the mundane every day has you beat down and wondering.

What difference do I make?

Today, let's answer that question by looking at some heroes of Biblical proportions. Names recorded for all time--for ALL eternity. People who made a difference. Whose lives are rich in meaning for us to glean and replicate.

People like Eliashib. Meremoth. Meshullam. Joiada. Uzziel. Rephaiah. Jedaiah. Shallum and his daughters. Hanun. Malkijah. Ezer. Hasshub. Pedaiah. Zadok.

Doesn't it read like a Who's Who of Biblical heroes? 

What? You don't have an illustrated children's book bought at Mardel's with their life stories?

Listen, if you wonder what difference you make in your world which might feel tiny and routine, let me point you to Nehemiah 3.

Nehemiah. Another Biblical hero who doesn't get much press time. Haven't seen too many plaques in Hobby Lobby with quotes from his book of the Bible.

But we would do well to linger in Nehemiah. As soon as we can find it. 

Because it's no coincidence when my pastor and one of my favorite online Bible studies simultaneously began a series in Nehemiah. I may have far to go in my walk with Jesus, but I've certainly learned to pay close attention when he repeats a theme.

Nehemiah. A man with a cushy job and a man of influence. A man who seemed to have the world by the tail, despite his background as an Israelite whose people have been exiled. 

Yet despite his creature comforts, Nehemiah was a man who was such a hometown boy that news of Jerusalem's wrecked and ruined state caused him to mourn, fast and weep. For months. 

For months. 

This was a man who served a king who had never seen him unhappy. Ever. But, Nehemiah's heart was broken for what broke God's heart. His faith--the faith of his fathers, passed down to this generation who had never lived in Jerusalem-- it was a strong faith. An intimate faith. A faith that surely cried out to God to be broken and used for the things that grieved the Lord Almighty. A faith surrendered to do whatever God asked of him.

Which points to one important truth in our lives. If you are feeling wrecked or broken or weepy or laid low about something, then maybe--just maybe--you are the verge of something God intends to do through you. 

The breaking usually proceeds the break through.

Maybe God is placing something on your heart to do (Nehemiah 2:12). Maybe he is preparing you for something. Maybe he is calling.

We would do well to listen up. To get on our knees and ask the question. WHAT do you have for me? 

Like Nehemiah, his purpose was found not in the seeking of that purpose, but in his seeking of God. When we draw near and close to him, he begins to transform us. He begins to soften us to be broken for something, in preparation for being used by him to make a difference. 

May we listen intently. And be emboldened and encouraged to remember that just like Nehemiah, when God calls us to do something, he provides all we need. He supplies our resources and paves our way and protects us as we go.

Just as in Nehemiah 2:1-9. 

If you are called to care for littles, then remember that God has your back on days that you feel you have nothing left to give. He will show up and strengthen you and get you through it.

If you are called to work in what seems like a thankless job, then remember that the One who made the heavens sees you and hears you and cares for you.

If you are dealing with a difficult marriage or a health crisis or a financial crisis, then remember that the One who carved out the oceans is big enough for your struggles.

If the One who allowed his children to be exiled for their disobedience cares enough to see the holy city of Jerusalem restored, then he is the one who does new things, rebuilds ruins, and restores what is falling apart.

So let's stop sitting around, being defeated by our circumstances. Let's be like Nehemiah. Let's draw near to God and hear his heartbeat and respond to his call and trust his provision.

Because we have walls to build. 

We all have walls to build.

Nehemiah had a literal wall to build. And he didn't shrink from the task. He didn't choose to stay in the comfort of his life, safe and secure, but he chose to go and obey. 

He was an ordinary man. With ordinary skills. And ordinary talents. Who believed in an extraordinary God. 

When I read Nehemiah 2:20 yesterday, I felt chills. I felt a surge of encouragement. I felt a challenge. And I felt a little de ja vu. Because it reminded me of someone else I had read about. As Nehemiah was being mocked and ridiculed (verse 19) for what he was trying to do in building the wall, here was his response:

I answered them by saying, "The God of heaven will give us success."

It reminded me of David. Another ordinary man-- or rather, ordinary boy. No great or noteworthy achievements of his own. No bragging rights, per se. Who faced a monumental challenge, as well.

David, too, was mocked and ridiculed. By the giant he faced. Cursed and despised and teased by opposition that stood between what he thought he was to do and success in accomplishing it.

But David stood tall in the face of such ridicule, just like Nehemiah. And offered this response:

You come against me with the sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you win the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel!
1 Samuel 17:45

David and Nehemiah were mere men. Much like us. Exactly like us, in fact. But they made a difference, not by their own might or abilities. But by their absolute faith in the truth that their God was not ordinary, although they were.

If you wonder what difference you are making, then ask God what is your wall? What is your wall to build? What is the thing that he wants you to do so that you can see the success he will give you as you obey? Will you believe that he is, indeed, the living God? The Holy One? The Lord Almighty? The God of heavens? The One who will accomplish through your obedience the very thing he asks of you?

Can you stand firm and unwavering in God's call on you, in whatever tasks he has given you, because you know the battle is not yours, but it is the Lord's?

And if you wonder what your wall is, and you think it seems rather insignificant, then let's go back to that roll call of hard-to-pronounce names that I listed earlier.

These are not names that roll off our tongue or fill books or sermons with incredible content. These are people--men and women--whose task probably seemed small. 

While Nehemiah was called to rebuild and restore Jerusalem, these people were called to something much smaller.

Eliashib. Meremoth. Meshullam. Joiada. Uzziel. Rephaiah. Jedaiah. Shallum and his daughters. Hanun. Malkijah. Ezer. Hasshub. Pedaiah. Zadok.

Everyone one of them simply rebuilt the wall in front of their homes. Their job, their call, their "wall to build" was only a portion. It was just a section. It was hard work. It wasn't glamorous. It was probably back breaking and laborious and certainly didn't feel like any big deal.

These are the ancient people who are exactly like us in wondering what difference they made. 

But in being faithful to do the portion allotted to them, their names are recorded, not just in any book, but in the Word of God. What may have felt like a small task or no big deal was actually part of a bigger work. As they laid brick after brick and hauled beams and doors and set hinges into place, they were actually doing Kingdom work. 

They were surely dirty and dusty and sweaty and smelly and maybe they were just plain over it. 

What difference did it make?

What difference did THEY make?

Yet, they were restoring Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3:7).

As you are filling out that zillionth report and completing the mundane filing at work, or filling up sippy cups or teaching rowdy children or dealing with difficult clients or doing some mind numbing tasks day after day, let me remind you.

You are part of building a bigger kingdom. You are restoring and rebuilding and being used by the God Almighty to accomplish bigger things. To be part of a bigger picture. One you may not be able to see from your vantage point.

And you may not have your name recorded in the Bible, but your name is recorded in the Lamb's Book of Life. 

What you do every day may not feel like it makes any difference, but it is work of eternal significance. Working at your portion of the wall is being part of a much bigger picture.

So stand firmly where you are, building the wall that he asks you build. Asking him continually, "What is MY wall? What is my portion of the wall?"

And know that together, he is weaving a bigger picture. Together, he is using all of your efforts and threading them together with the efforts of others to rebuild and restore his people and his everlasting kingdom. 

Maybe it feels like no one knows your name. Maybe you feel like Meshullam and you long to be known more like Moses.

But God knows your name. He knows the very hairs on your head. He sees your every effort. He hears when you are mocked and ridiculed for the way you are seeking to obey. He knows the opponent feels like a giant. He knows the accuser tries to deceive you about your work being meaningless.

Yet he whispers for you to answer his call. He wants you to believe that he paves the way. He longs for you to think the truest things about him as the extraordinary God who does extraordinary things through ordinary people of ordinary skill doing ordinary tasks.

He wants you to just do your thing. Build your portion. Work on your part of the wall. 

And know that it has everlasting impact in building a Kingdom that won't end.  

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