But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. (Nehemiah 4:7-9)

Nehemiah was on a mission from God and the King.  He was sent to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall of the city which was destroyed when Israel was taken into captivity.  God was restoring Jerusalem but not everyone was happy about it.  Nehemiah and his workers ran into some serious opposition in getting the task done.  The governors of the surrounding areas did everything they could, both politically and physically, to stop the work, but the workers were steadfast.  They knew that they were doing the right thing for the right reasons. So what did our merry band of builders do?  They relied on the spiritual and the practical.

Nehemiah had a security problem.  He prayed for protection and for God’s blessing on the work, but he also set an armed guard.  That’s not unspiritual.  That’s good sense. Nehemiah understood that it was imperative to seek God’s counsel and ask for his protection.  However, he didn’t just say a prayer and hope for the best.  There’s a huge lesson to be learned here. 

Too often, we see the spiritual and the practical as opposing thoughts, but that’s not what God intends.  Yes, we should always pray before we take on a huge job, but we also shouldn’t require a burning bush to take the most logical step in the right direction.  God’s not going to lay out a detailed five-year plan with every detail marked out for you.  It’s just not the way he works.  God points you in the right direction, but he can’t walk the journey for you.  At some point, you have to take that step. 

Nehemiah understood that the wall was not going to build itself.  He accepted the fact that it was not going to be an easy or a quick job, but it was a job that could be accomplished with God’s help. 

People are not always going to like what you do and they may oppose you, either directly or indirectly.  In order to achieve the thing you want to accomplish, you have to pray and then set a guard… or take the step… or write the article… or start the diet… or begin to exercise… or take the job… etc.

In this new year, what does God want you to accomplish, and what do you need to DO to get that started?