“Find that courageous yes. Fight for that confident no.”
Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:1–3)
Say it with me: “no.” Come on, you can do better: “No.” You are almost there. Say it one more time with conviction: “NO!” That wasn’t so hard, was it? Actually, trust me, I know how hard it can be to say no. Why is that little word such a challenge to get out of a mouth?
In The Best Yes, Lysa TerKeurst writes, “Whenever you say yes to something, there is less of you for something else. Make sure your yes is worth the less.” She encourages her readers to “Find that courageous yes. Fight for that confident no.”1
The wall was almost finished. Nehemiah and his team could see the approaching completion of their labor. Then what happened? The enemies of the returning exiles reared their mischievous heads again with an invitation for Nehemiah to meet them. These folks would not take no for an answer. They knew that once Nehemiah finished rebuilding the wall, a political and economic resurgence would occur in the region. They did not want to see a shift in the balance of power that would come with the completed structure. They set out to distract, discredit, and intimidate Nehemiah.2
Rebuilding the wall was not something Nehemiah decided to do on a whim. God called him to do the work—a work so significant he could not afford to be distracted. He responded to those who would sidetrack him with a confident “no”: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”
When your husband returns from a deployment—short or long—you may be tempted to say, “Good, you’re home! Now I can _____________.” Oh, but may I issue a caution? Exercise determination to be steadfast in reestablishing your family. Guard against distractions that can keep you from family priorities. Am I encouraging you to say no to everything and only do the family huddle? Of course not, but use wisdom in those things to which you say yes.
How does 1 Corinthians 15:58 relate to the scene in Nehemiah 6? What can you learn about priorities from Nehemiah’s example?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, give me wisdom to discern when to say a confident “no” and the grace to say it with kindness. Guide my family so we do not confuse our priorities. Amen.
1 Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2014), 35.
2 Leslie C. Allen and Timothy S. Laniak, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), 113.