A Challenge to Overcome
In 539 B.C., Cyrus of Persia defeated the Babylonian Empire. It was during the time of the Babylonians that the Hebrews were taken into exile far from their homes. Unlike the Babylonian kings before him, Cyrus allowed these captives to return to their homeland and reestablish worship to God while remaining as subjects of the emperor. Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah all led contingencies of the Jewish people back to Jerusalem. The Book of Nehemiah opens with him serving as cupbearer to Artaxerxes, who had become emperor. Even though the temple had been restored, the walls around the city were in disrepair, exposing the inhabitants to marauders and pillagers. Through his grief, Nehemiah determined to do something about it.
The Dream, the Duty, and the Drive
Anything worth pursuing begins with a dream. Nehemiah longed for the day when the city of his people’s heritage was restored. Even though he was in a position of trust (a cupbearer served the king wine after first tasting it for quality and purity), he still knew it was a risk to ask for leave to return to Jerusalem. But God granted him not only favor to go, but the king sent along letters of permission that granted him passage through foreign territories. “And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of God upon me.” (Nehemiah 2:8)
When Nehemiah arrived, it was worse than he thought. The walls were broken down and the gates were burned with fire. While he was still in Persia, he could provide ample excuses for why he was incapable of doing anything. Now, having surveyed the damage firsthand, he had a duty to do something about it. He had reached the point of no return. He quickly assembled a willing team of craftsmen and the work began.
Lodestar Character Compass
But good intentions are insufficient to complete any worthwhile endeavor. It takes determination and drive to follow through. The work of God will always be opposed. The workers on the wall had to be warriors as well, with a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other to repel attacks from enemies. Not only was there external opposition, but the people also had to battle discouragement. Consistently though, the determination and faith of Nehemiah encouraged the workers to complete the task in a mere fifty-two days!
The Story Retold
Determination is defined as “working intently to accomplish one’s goals despite the opposition.”
Determination is one of the essential qualities of a satisfying and successful life. Everyone faces challenges and obstacles; only the determined push through and overcome. An important benefit of determination is that, one way or another, you will achieve. You will either do exactly what you set out to do, or you will discover another way to accomplish your goals. Godly determination is more than having a steel backbone and will, as it operates in the favor of God. It begins with a God-given dream that quickly ignites into a passion to see the Kingdom of God expand. It accepts that God placed us here for a unique purpose and is served by a resolve to obey God rather than men. History tells the story of determined men and women who refused to give up. May our lives become new stories of those who accomplish great things for God!
Reverend Tim McAvoy
Director of Lodestar Guidance