One of the most memorable, challenging, shoot-right-to-the-heart-of-me-challenging talks I’ve ever heard was given by Mike Pilavachi at Hillsong Conference one year. It was at an elective for youth leaders and I honestly don’t remember what the actual topic was and whether this was part of the talk or the whole of it but it impacted me that day and has almost every day since – especially since I started pursuing my dream of becoming a published author.
He talked about Nehemiah and the wall of Jerusalem that he rebuilt. Or, more specifically, the challenges along the way. See, Nehemiah set out to rebuild a wall. Not a little retaining wall but a giant one. Picture one of those ones that go around old cities and castles. Huge. Solid. Thick. The town’s first and best defense. It was supposed to be protecting Jerusalem. Instead, it was a pile of rubble.
But God put a passion in Nehemiah’s heart to see it rebuilt. So, he left his prestigious job, travelled back to Jerusalem, convinced its people to help and got to work.
And straight up, faced opposition.
Before he’d even started laying the first bricks, the naysayers came. Three guys who didn’t believe in God, didn’t believe in Nehemiah and definitely didn’t want that wall rebuilt.
“Do you really think you can do this?”
“You think you’re all that?”
“You’re crazy, you know that, right?”
But Nehemiah shook them off. “God will help us succeed. He gave me the dream, he’ll see it through.”
And the wall started going up. Section by section, it grew and grew, alongside the faith and enthusiasm of its people, until it was halfway done.
And the outsiders, those naysayers and their friends, got angry. I can just see them, arguing back and forth between themselves, pointing fingers. “You said they’d fail. You said it wouldn’t go up. Now look. It’s halfway done. We have to do something about this. Words aren’t working.”
Giving up on their taunts, they started attacking. The builders were spending as much time fighting as they were building. The people grew discouraged. But, back came Nehemiah, reminding them God was on their side. Stationing warriors alongside the builders. Holding a spear in one hand and a trowel in the other. Fighting for what was right.
And the wall kept rising.
Until it was done.
Well, almost. 99 percent. The whole wall, so solid it was watertight, but not the gates.
And in one last ditch attempt, the enemies came back. Not an attack this time, not even taunts. An invitation. “Come, meet with us. You’re pretty much done. Good job.” And when that didn’t work, they started first one rumor, then another. All trying to get the work to stop.
Nehemiah saw through their ploys, prayed for strength, and at last the wall was done. Finished. One hundred percent. God’s people were safe again. Nehemiah saw with his own eyes the fulfilment of the vision God had given him.
Mike talked about the different points in which the enemy attacked and the different ways he does it.
At the beginning. When you’re just starting out. Full of faith and excitement but also wondering if this giant, often humanly-impossible, dream God has given you is even real or you’re totally deluded. That’s when the doubts come. The questions. “Are you sureGod gave you this dream? You think you’rethe one to do this? Seriously? You? Who do you think you are??”
In the middle. When you’re halfway there and tired. Worn out from the work. You’ve fought through the doubts and questions and you know this is where God wants you but you’re physically tired and it all just seems too much. You don’t know where you’re going to find the energy to keep going.
And at the 99 percent mark. When it’s pretty much all done. Not totally. There are a few more bits and pieces to finish off but, really, you’re pretty much there. Surely, there’s time to celebrate. After all, you’re there. You’ve done it. You fought through all the opposition, kept fighting through the weariness and you’re done.
It’s the last one I’ve always struggled with the most and the place I think the enemy will always try to hit the hardest. When we’re almost done. The end is in sight, and this is his last chance.
It’s the place I’m alternately fighting from and struggling in today, three months out from my debut book being published.
For almost a decade now, I’ve been fighting for this dream. Through a barrage of self-doubts, rejections, characters that won’t behave, physical pain and sickness, dreams which seemed dead, others’ doubts and a bunch of stuff which should have stopped me. But didn’t. Because I held on to the fact that God could do this, even if I couldn’t.
And then the book was written. The contract came. The edits were done. The date was set. And all of a sudden, just over three months out, when the book could pretty much do itself now without any more of my help, I’m tired. Doubting. Wondering what I was thinking to think I could do this. Wondering what I was thinking to think this book was any good and that anyone other than family would want to read it.
It’s a scary place to be because I know it’s not real. I know it’s a last ditch attack. But it feels real. The doubts are there, every day, eating away at my faith. The despondency creeps in. And I have to remind myself, day by day, minute by minute, to look up and not out. To keep my eyes on God and his purpose, rather than what I see, or don’t see, around me.
To, like Nehemiah, beg God for one last bit of strength.
To do what God’s called me to do.
And finish the wall.