After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers, the musicians and the Levites were appointed.
The other week, my mom and I were chatting over the phone and our conversation went as far as Canada : ) She asked if we’re still considering going abroad as a family. It could be an easy yes if all we’re after is a comfortable life. For who wouldn’t want a nice house and really big servings of steak! Relieved that it was at the far end of our thoughts, she confessed what her brother told her lately: “After years of working really hard and now being able to afford all my wants, I wonder, is this all what life is?” It was really sad.
Today’s chapter opens with the wall finally finished after only fifty-two days. It was undeniably God’s hand over them considering all the hurdles they endured. We would expect that next in Nehemiah’s list would be to reward his men with a sumptuous feast and a good break from work. Just like how we treat ourselves after a draining week. And it seems it was what happened in chapter eight. There really was a celebration for the One who deserved it most. Not the people obviously. In fact they were still in work mode. The relevance of the Levites’ appointment here was to remind them of their purpose as a nation. That it wasn’t about building structures or being safe and comfortable. It was to attend to their temple service. It was to worship God.
Ask a student what’s his plan after college and he’ll answer you, ‘I’ll find a decent job’. Ask a worker and he’ll either say marriage or aim for a promotion. Ask the newly raised and he’s eyeing to buy his own house. Ask a boss and he’s probably already saving for his retirement. Ask a senior citizen and he could still be after something. Really nothing wrong with forward looking. But what is, is when we see life’s purpose meeting us only at the finish line. I’m sure if Nehemiah’s OC-ness ruled over, he wouldn’t put a halt until their temple would be like Solomon’s, their government like Persia's, and their marketplace like Tyre's. But just like in music, it’s not all playing notes. Interestingly, the word Selah in the book of Psalm is believed to mean ‘pause’ or ‘praise’. We sing a line and then we pause for praise. We check one task and then we pause for praise. We end a day and then we pause for praise. Why wait 'til the end of your life's song before you breathe? No wonder we're stressed! (if not dead!) Let's follow His cue: make it one praise at every phrase.