“Should such a man as I flee?” -Nehemiah 6:11
The above text grabbed my attention as I was recently reading one of the heart piercing chapters from V. Raymond Edman’s delightful book, “The Disciplines of Life.” You will recognize them as the words of Nehemiah who had been called of God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The enemies of Nehemiah were planning a conspiracy against him trying again and again (6:4) to tempt Nehemiah to leave his port of duty distracting him with enticing alternatives. Nehemiah was not to be diverted. Though pressed in spirit, both emotionally and physically, he remained focused on the will of God for his life. It was hard dirty work rebuilding the walls. The people he had to work with grew weary and tired. They complained and criticized and had to be pushed. He was constantly putting out “little fires” among the workmen, and then came the attractive invitation to leave his calling and join the opposers in the temple where there would be safety from the threatening enemy (6:10). After the fifth invitation (6:5) to leave the work, though weary and worn, he says, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” (6:11).
Have you ever been tempted to leave the work God has called you to do? So pressed that you just wanted to flee? It has been my experience in ministry over the years that when I was in such a prostate position, there were always enticing alternatives luring me to leave. In essence, Proverbs 28:1 states that when the righteous are tempted to flee, they are bold as a lion. I have always had a great fear of not being just where God wanted me to be. I once heard someone say, “If the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, be sure that the water bill is higher too!”
As we set our course on ministry we can be in one of two camps. The camp of the fleeing fledgling or the camp of the pressed patriarch. We can be one who runs from responsibility never growing up in ministry, or one who “stands by the stuff” becoming a veteran of sorts in the army of the Lord. Peter fled when he followed afar off (Matt. 26:58). Jonah fled when he went down to Joppa instead of Ninevah (Jonah 1:4). Demas fled having loved this present world (II Timothy 4:10). On the other hand, Daniel kept on praying to his God as usual after the king decreed the lion’s den for those who prayed to others than himself (Daniel 6:7). The three Hebrew children stood tall in the fiery furnace, with the Lord Himself by their side, when they refused to bow and worship a golden image (Daniel 3:10-11). Paul continued on his course even though he knew that suffering lay before him (Acts 20:22-24; 21:13). And, our Lord Himself, refused to alter His course when tempted by the Pharisees to flee from the merciless hand of Herod (Luke 13:31-33).
To flee or not to flee – that is the question! Not quite Shakespeare, but certainly Satanic if we are not wise and discerning regarding the will and mind of the Lord. Seldom a year, month, week or day goes by for those in minstry when they are not pressed with the temptation to flee the realistic rigors of responsibility. We must always flee temptation but never the call of duty. When pressed to flee, flee to the One who has first called you to salvation and then called you to service. Ask HIM if you should remain or relent, speak or be silent, be patient or persistent? Linger long at the throne room of prayer (Hebrews 4:14-16). Allow HIS Word to refresh your soul for the tasks of the hour. Regain your focus in light of God’s purpose for your future. Adversity may be lasting, but it is not everlasting! It may have a sting, but it also has a wing! John Bunyan commented, “It is said that in some countries trees will grow, but will bear no fruit, because there is no winter there.” The refreshing breezes of spring and the soothing warmth of summer are often welcomed exceptions in the service of the Lord. “Should such a man as I flee?” Yes, but only to the Lord!
Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length,
Pressed so intently, it seems beyond strength,
Pressed in the body, and pressed in the soul,
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll,
Pressure by foes, and a pressure by friends,
Pressure on pressure till life nearly ends.
Pressed into knowing no helper but God,
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod,
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings,
Pressed into faith for impossible things,
Pressed into living a life in the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.
–Maynard H. Belt