Nose to the Grindstone
Most of us have heard the following expressions: “He‘s not afraid of hard work.” “Put some elbow grease on it.” “You‘re burnin‘ daylight.” “If you don‘t work, you don‘t eat.“ “Make hay while the sun shines.” “If you choose a career you love, you’ll never work a
day in your life.“
Work is a big part of life and, if we want to amount to anything, we
have to work in some fashion. It may not be punching a time clock on the production line, or working in the office 9 to 5, driving a big rig, or pushing cattle, but we all have some type of work to accomplish. Honestly, there’s no paycheck for a lot of the work we do — just the satisfaction of a job well done. Anybody can start a chore, but you have to put your nose to the grindstone to finish it with excellence.
In the Bible, we refer to Nehemiah as the weeping prophet, for when he was told that the remnant of Jews were in great trouble and shame, the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and the gates burned, he sat down and wept and mourned for days. He knew his people were defenseless against their enemies with no wall for protection. King Artaxerxes sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem as Governor of Judah and also Chief Construction Officer.
Nehemiah maintained a close relationship with God, and God gave him wisdom on how to accomplish the huge task of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem.
After Nehemiah inspected the wall, he called the men together and basically told them, “Don’t be afraid, trust God and work like crazy.“ Before the construction began, the scripture tells us, “the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6 ESV). A stouthearted
decision must be made before we start something or there’s a strong possibility we won’t stick with it when the going gets tough.
Nehemiah and the people prayed and partnered with God, therefore, He set a guard as a protection against their enemies day and night. Nehemiah writes, “I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people,
‘Do not be afraid of them [enemies]. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.’ When our enemies heard that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such
a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out“ (Nehemiah 4:13-18,21 ESV). This formidable half-warrior/half-worker team was committed to build with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other.
There are times when a believer’s job is to pray, trust, and wait. But the building of Jerusalem’s wall was not one of those times to kick back and see what God would do.
This was a time for God to see His people use their elbow grease. If they were determined to work, then He would take care of them. This construction was no walk in the park, but it was possible with God’s favor on His valiant crew. He protected them as they labored, and everyone had a part to play in this huge project which was completed in just 52 days.
The Key: Put your nose to the grindstone and God will protect it from getting skinned.