Nehemiah and the DIY Myth

Sunday we began our study of INITIATIVE in the book of Nehemiah. We started our lesson with a small construction project, Jenga style. The kids got in groups and tried to build the tallest tower they could in three minutes. They planned (quickly) and cooperated (mostly) and we ended up with three completely different, creative ideas.

Building Collage

One group started with a very solid foundation before building up tall and lean. Another group made a complete Jenga structure and removed blocks to add to the top. The third group decided to use the wall as a support system and constructed against it. They had such fun doing the building. Not thinking about it, talking about it, and moving on to other things. Actually doing it.

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Lesson: Nehemiah 1

Bottom Line: When you see something big to be done, ask God for help.

Initiative. A word that resounds in our schools and workplaces and communities. Take some initiative! Be the one who gets the job done!

The one. Do you feel the pressure of those two small words like I do? The. One.

I know, I should feel empowered as an individual. I should. I mean, I can DIY my entire life on Pinterest. I am one and I can do it! Quickly and cheaply and beautifully. We are in the midst of a Do-It-Yourself movement, it seems. And sometimes this IS empowering and exciting. It is when I’m saving money by DIY-ing home decor or cupcakes or Halloween costumes. But when I look at this troubled world and WANT to do something about it and feel like I SHOULD be able to Do-It-Myself, I am defeated before I begin. And so I don’t. I choose not to begin at all.

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And then I read Nehemiah. I can relate to his heart broken for a cause so close to home. I know those tears. My own cheeks are well-worn from the trails they have run again and again. I read Nehemiah’s 13-chapter story and admire his initiative and am astounded by his accomplishment in those few pages. And for a moment, before really even diving in, I allow that feeling of defeat begin to overtake my spirit. Yes, Nehemiah did it. He saw a great need in the wall of Jerusalem and took the initiative to do the impossible thing. He did something big. But how can I be The One to take on a task so monumental in my busy life right now?

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When I get past my own initial stress and feelings of inadequacy and allow myself to sink deep and heavy into Nehemiah’s story, I see that his example is full of hope and possibility and encouragement…because he makes it abundantly clear right away in chapter 1 that he did not DIY the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. He didn’t for a moment think he could do it all himself. Where did Nehemiah turn first? Not to his brothers, his friends, his earthly leader. Not to the nearest self-help shelf in Persia or the first DIY wall-building website he could find. Nehemiah turned to his Father. There was no pause. In verse 4 he wept broken-hearted, and in verse 5 he lay his heartache at the feet of God. He poured out his soul in prayer, pleading for God to make him successful in this impossible task. And God answered, bigger than Nehemiah imagined. Of course He did! “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.” Do you know that little song? What powerful truth!

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It was such a great pleasure to tell our kids on Sunday in full honesty that they CAN do something about the the things that break their hearts. And they don’t have to do it alone! Thank goodness for Nehemiah’s example, reminding us that we don’t have to be The One because God is. We simply have to tune into Him, subscribe to His channel. We simply have to open His Word and ask for His help. That’s our initiative.


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These are our Nehemiah glasses. So we can see the way he sees. Fun, but unnecessary.  Your kids don’t need any help seeing the needs in the world. They already do! And their vision is creative and bursting with hope and possibility. 

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We were not created to DIY our way through life. God makes that obvious from the very beginning, remember? God created Adam and immediately said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” We need God and we need each other.

So there it is. The DIY Myth exposed. I hope this truth is as freeing for you and your children as it is for me.

Now…where should our building begin?

Summer

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