“When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.” Nehemiah 2:10
In the book of Nehemiah we see a man who was tremendously gifted to lead, leave his place in the palace working for the King, to go to a people who were in trouble and needed help. Nehemiah went to Jerusalem, where his people were struggling under the oppression of two men Sanballat and Tobiah. These men were local politicians (non-Jewish) who were taking advantage of the fact that the people in Jerusalem were struggling and they had no defense to protect themselves because the city walls were in decay. The above passage is referring to how these two men responded to the word that Nehemiah had come to town to help protect, bless and build up the Jewish people. Now, let me transition here…this passage, this book, can be a pivotal study piece for you if you desire to go deeper with God and your ability to recognize and discern his guidance and leadership in your life. I will take a snapshot look and try to help you start this journey to hearing the Voice of the Lord with greater clarity.
Imagine that you are like the city of Jerusalem. All of us are like a city. The basic blue print of you was laid out by God before we were formed in our mother’s womb (Psalm 119). However, the experiences and circumstances of life, how we were raised, who shaped our attitudes actions and thoughts as a child…all these factors make up the actual structure (strengths and weaknesses) of “our city” or who we are. Our perceptions are the filter by which we measure our encounters with other people and how we respond in certain situations.
The old saying goes that everyone has “baggage”, some more than others, but we have areas of struggle or “issues”. Sanballat and Tobiah were two men who proceed to harass Nehemiah, trying to intimidate, slander and destroy his efforts to help these people rebuild and fortify the walls of their city. Why? Because these two men were personally gaining from the lack of protection these people had. If Nehemiah helped them rebuild then they would be strong and fortified and Tobiah and Sanballat would no longer be able to roam the city pillaging as they please. The areas of our minds and hearts that have been damaged or have a skewed filter are the areas that we are like a broken down city wall with our own personal Tobiahs and Sanballats harassing us. Our defense minimal and the Enemy of our soul targets those areas causing us to stumble over and over. It could be any number of areas we struggle and some are greater hindrances than others. Allow me to give you a personal example.
My entire life I’ve been pretty good at getting along with people. I can blend in to most any crowd or connect quickly to others. I didn’t realize I had this ability until I was an adult, but looking back, it was always there. I am also able to help others get along with each other, kind of like I am relationship glue. I can aid others in mending wounds, etc. However, growing up I endured many deep, emotional blows from females. Over time, I became more removed and though I could still connect and get along, I began to distance myself and without realizing it, stopped letting friends into the deeper chambers of my heart. It wasn’t until I was a young woman that God brought a woman into my life who persisted to reach into that deeper part of my heart in close friendship. I resisted her love for a long time, trying to keep our friendship surface. I didn’t realize I did all of this until I had to make the choice, will I allow her in deeper and trust her with my heart? Or will I keep our friendship surface and then probably lose her altogether for lack of intimacy. I was so frightened. I was convinced that if I opened up to her, she was only going to turn on me and hurt me. But God’s gentle voice encouraged me to slowly trust her and I did. It was so hard for me because I had been hurt before. She was patient with me and I grew and she became close like a sister. My friendship with her is very unique and special.
This is how many people approach their friendship with God. We want more of him but we are afraid. We think he might punish us or make us give too much up or whatever makes us keep him at arms length. The Tobiahs and Sanballats of our mind have skewed what a healthy relationship looks like and so we become afraid. We measure our relationship with God by our experiences with human relationships. Trust me, it’s just not the same! God will never leave you or forsake you. He loves you and wants to be your best friend! He is Jealous. Have you ever had a person, boyfriend or girlfriend jealous for you? Someone who so wants your attention or affection and if someone else gets it, what do they do? They behave poorly toward that other person or thing that is taking the attention they want from you away. But God’s Jealousy is Pure. Anything that would hinder you from being close to him he is jealous of. He wants your undivided heart. He doesn’t want any man, woman, child, career, possession to stand between his love and you. He doesn’t want any feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, fear or worry or doubt to hinder his love form reaching the depths of your heart. He loves you and wants some attention from you!
So, how do you fortify your walls? You need to start with prayer. Make a commitment to talk to God everyday. Your words do not have to be formal or fancy. It’s like talking to a friend. Next, you need to be reading the Bible. Start with the books of John, Psalms or Proverbs if this is new to you. Then, when you pray and read ask God to show you the areas of your mind, thoughts, perceptions, feelings that are needing some building up. What needs to be cleaned up? You will know because it will be the area or thing he repeatedly brings to your mind. This is how God can come in and rebuild the broken areas of your heart, mind, emotions. When we allow him to “clear the clutter”, then we can see him and hear him more clearly! This is what it means to have clean hands and a pure heart.
You can do this. God longs to lavish you with adoration, love, praise. He longs to build you up and bless and protect you. It doesn’t happen overnight, but with diligence, perseverance and time you can nurture a loving relationship that will never disappoint.
I am here for you, too. There is nothing I want more than to see you succeed…to see you happy. I long to see you fulfill the Destiny that God has for you~ It is incredible and so are you.