Nehemiah 3:1-32, Romans 12:3-8, Psalm 8:1
Do you ever feel like you’re waiting for meaningful work to come into your life? That your present situation is beneath you in some way, but one day you’ll find your true calling?
Read Nehemiah 3. Every word. All the way through. It might take some effort, but it’s nothing compared to the work the people in the chapter are doing.
Nehemiah 3 is about how the work gets done. This chapter is filled with people’s names and the sections of the wall and gates they worked on. It’s a strange little chapter if you’re reading it looking for something poetic or sentimental. But it is a powerful record of people rising to the occasion to rebuild what enemies had once torn down. It is also a powerful statement about calling.
Think about these people for a minute. Take Jedediah son of Harumaph from verse 10 as an example. We’re told he worked on the broad wall—the outer city wall—between Rephaiah son of Hur and Hattush the son of Hashabneiah. Can you imagine them there—Rephaiah, Jedediah, and Hattush—working away in the dust and sun? Can you hear the chatter between them as they take their water breaks and compare their busted knuckles and blistered palms? Can you hear them talking about what things will be like when the wall is finished?
These guys were doing real work. Hard work. They are in this chapter not for being celebrities or for splitting the atom, but for moving rocks—a job so difficult that criminals are sentenced to do it as punishment. Why does God’s Holy Word contain a record of men stacking rocks?
One reason, I believe, can be found in a little detail we’re given about Jedediah, and also about Meremoth (v.21), Benjamin and Hasshub (v.23), the priests (v.28), Zadok (v.29), and Meshullam (v.30). Do you see what they all have in common? These people were all working on the parts of the wall that were right outside their homes. They were doing the hard work that was in front of them.
More often than not, this is our calling in life: to do the work that is in front of us, and to do it faithfully. Though we might be tempted to go around the world trying to find our calling in life, more often than not the place where we’re needed most is right outside our own front doors.
It is no small thing to have your name included in the Bible. Though some in this chapter are called out for their idleness—like the Tekoite noblemen (v.5)—most of the names in this chapter are there to honor the work of these men and women who worked to rebuild their hometown out of the ruins in their own neighborhoods.
Look outside your own front door. What work is there to do? How can you help? Maybe that’s your calling right now.
Written by Russ Ramsey