Last week, in The Nehemiah Solutions, Part 4, we discovered that the best way to deal with distractions is to simply ignore them.  But the moment I heard we would have new neighbors, God placed it on my heart to make contact with them, to greet them to the neighborhood.

Now that sounds like a very neighborly thing to do, something that anyone would do, but being incredibly shy by nature, such tasks definitely push me out of my comfort zone!

Since these new neighbors moved in the very same week I had cancer surgery, I had a jewelled excuse to put it off.

Didn't I?

I convinced myself I did. There would be plenty of time for welcoming the new neighbors when I didn't have so much on my own plate!

Then there was recovery from surgery. Surely God didn't expect me to limp over there in such a poor state.  Of course, once I had recovered from surgery, I had to return to work.  That was a major thing because my energy was low.  There just wouldn't be enough energy to do what I needed to do around the house, work, AND welcome the new neighbors!

Then Christmas came. What a golden opportunity to welcome the new neighbors! I could take them a little "welcome to the neighborhood/Christmas" gift...but things are so busy at Christmas time.  Besides, I had a touch of the flu...

I know, just a bunch of excuses.  Want to hear my latest one?  "It's too late to welcome the new neighbors!  That’s something that should have been done the first few weeks!"

God knows I often need a "push" from Him, and that's what He did this morning, through Nehemiah, chapter 3.

Now Nehemiah 3 is the chapter that describes who rebuilt what part of the wall of Jerusalem, and if you ask me, it's downright boring.  In fact, I was tempted to speed through the chapter the day before so that I could move on to something more "inspiring".  But after reading about 12 verses of: "Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They built as far as the Tower of the Hundred, and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of Hananel. Next to Eliashib the men of Jericho built..." (Neh 3:1-2, NKJV), God wouldn't let me continue.

"Tomorrow!" He said. "Tomorrow you may finish reading this chapter!"

"Why, Lord?" I started to argue.  But I already knew the answer. The remainder of chapter 3, as dull as it was, contained a message for me, one that God wanted me to hear "tomorrow"!

When tomorrow came, I must say that I wasn't exactly looking forward to my Bible passage from Nehemiah.  Especially as it went on and on: "Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired a thousand cubits of the wall as far as the Refuse Gate. Malchijah the son of Rechab..." (Neh 3:13-14, NKJV)

At one point, despite my deep-rooted belief that every word of God's blessed Scripture has a specific meaning for me today, I looked up and said, "Lord, this is downright boring!"

God's response?

"Keep reading!"

I did. And I'm ashamed to say that I almost missed it. In fact, I got to the end of the chapter and even said, "See Lord? Nothing!"

I was immediately impressed to reread a specific section, and as I did, it was like the words were written in bold letters in my Bible: "After him Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs by his house." (Neh 3:23, NKJV).

I still didn't completely understand the depth of God's message to me, but one thing I knew: God was speaking to me loudly and clearly: "My mission for you is right here, right in your neighborhood, right 'by your house!'"

Think about it!  We think that to fulfill God's mission we must go abroad or donate money or clothing to food banks and local charities.  These are good things to do, but each of these people mentioned in Nehemiah 3 had a specific section of the wall that they were in charge of!  Some rebuilt around the temple, some around the palace, and some rebuilt by his house, or opposite their house! While we're busy helping the world afar, our very neighbors cry out for help, cry out for a touch of the Lord, cry out for Salvation!

As I contemplated this, God's instructions were clear: "Enough with your excuses! Go and greet the new neighbors!"

I wish I could say I dropped everything and went right over, but I didn't. In fact I spent the next few minutes arguing. 

Maybe it was just as well, for it was a bit early in the morning to be visiting.  But God was persistent, and I soon found myself in the kitchen baking cookies.  When they are done, I prayed for God to give me the courage to overcome my shyness, and I went over and welcomed the new neighbors to the neighborhood with a plate of homemade cookies.

The message to us today is clear: God has a mission for each of us.  For some, it is across the ocean.  For some, it is across town.  For some, it is right next door.  Thank you, Nehemiah, for the important reminder that sometimes the work for us to do is literally by our house!

Then the wall was finished.  Life would go back to normal, and before long the people would begin to forget the series of major miracles that brought about the completion of the wall. Nehemiah was aware of this human tendency, and he was ready with a solution. Join us next Saturday for the final edition of The Nehemiah Solution: The Exuberance of Praise.

In His love,

Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.

(To access the rest of this mini-series, please click here.)