Chapter 3 at first glance can seem a bit boring. I think the most often used words in this chapter are, "Next to him/them." After all, all it seems to be is a list of who built what. Since we are now a couple millenium away from this activity, it sort of feels like it doesn't have much to do with our day to day lives.
There are other passages in the Bible where I think, "hmm, I wonder why in the world God included this in the finished Bible - what is the relevance to today?" The book of Leviticus comes to mind - does anyone else struggle with getting through that book of the Bible besides me? But God DID include it so there has to be a reason, right?
As I look at this chapter, I can see facts - certain portions of the wall were built simultaneously by different people. It lists who built each section. I suppose if I was a heavy duty Bible scholar, I could look up the family names and see what they built and how that part of the wall was used, etc. back in the glory days of Israel. But, the truth is, I'm NOT a Bible scholar. However, I DO believe that even in what appears to be a boring list of work orders, God has something for me to learn.
The first thing I can take away from this is that a large job divided among willing workers makes the work go a whole lot faster. Either a few people doing the entire job or ALL the people doing one tiny section wouldn't have worked very well. If there were a lot of willing workers, if they all concentrated on one section of the wall there would have been chaos - people tripping over other people; stuff dropping where it shouldn't; bumping into things, etc. If only a few groups tried to build the entire wall by themselves, it would have been very slow going and probably discouraging as they would see very little progress for the sweat equity going into the project.
I can take this and apply it to the church body. Have you ever heard the saying that 20% of the people do 80% of the work? If you look closer you'll find that often is true in churches today. On the other side of the coin, the many needs that cry out to be met by God seem overwhelming. Sometimes, it feels like we are being pulled all over because of the many areas that need workers.
Instead of trying to have a few people do it all or a bunch of people do a small portion, Nehemiah set each group over a certain section of the wall. Because the workers could concentrate in their area, they were able to do the job well, do it efficiently and see to all the details. The workers also saw progress and weren't overwhelmed by the huge amount of work that restoring the entire wall entailed.
God has given the church, as a body, a big job - go out into all the world and preach the Gospel; take care of the poor and the widows and fatherless; love one another; etc. Fortunately, He doesn't expect one person or group to accomplish everything all at once. He give each person a calling or area to work in. We are individually responsible for what God calls US to do, not what He calls our neighbor to do. We must work heartily and wholeheartedly where we are at - at our part of the wall.
I know two different women - both of whom love God and want to serve Him. One works in an office and one works in a restaurant. On the outside, those jobs don't seem very "spiritual" or ministry-orientated. But I believe God has them in ministry right where they are at. Both share Christ's love and the hope that is in Him with their co-workers - meeting needs right where they are at. Both are Jesus with skin on to people who might never ever darken a church door without some kind of relationship first. They would tell you that they aren't in ministry, but I will tell you that they are faithfully working at their part on the wall.
We live in a somewhat "interesting" neighborhood. It's not unusual to see gang symbols spray painted on signs or along the sidewalks. I've prayed many times about leaving here but each time God has told me to stay put. I see that God is working here through our family though. My boys have some friends that they play ball with in our side yard. Two days ago, my oldest son led one of these friends to God. He said, "Mom, I was praying you wouldn't call us in to supper before D got saved." This neighborhood is my family's portion of the wall and we are called to be faithful right here. Yes, there are needs around the world, but I can't meet all those needs. I can send supplies to other parts of the wall, but God has called me to work on THIS part - to see this part completed, to see the details accomplished.
"For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11
One brick at a time, we can all finish our part of the wall.
~ Blessings, Bronte