My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to Ezra 1; 3-7 and Nehemiah 2; 4-6; 8. The title of the lesson is “I Am Doing a Great Work.” The lesson was introduced with the following paragraph.
The Jewish people had been held captive in
Babylonia for about 70 years. They had lost Jerusalem and the temple, and many
had forgotten their commitment to God’s law. But God had not forgotten them. In
fact, He had declared through His prophet, “I will visit you, and perform my
good word toward you, in causing you to return” (Jeremiah 29:10). True to this
prophecy, the Lord did make a way for the Jews to return, and He raised up
servants who accomplished “a great work’ for His people (Nehemiah 6:3). These
servants included a governor named Zerubbabel, who oversaw the rebuilding of
the house of the Lord; Ezra, a priest and scribe who turned the hearts of the
people back to the Lord’s law; and Nehemiah, a later governor of Judah who led
the work of rebuilding the protective walls around Jerusalem. They met
opposition, of course, but also received assistance from unexpected sources.
Their experiences an inform and inspire ours, because we too are doing a great
work. And like theirs, our work has much to do with the house of the Lord, the
law of the Lord, and the spiritual protection we find in Him.
As in most lessons, there are
several principles taught in the lesson. The principle that I wish to discuss tonight
is “I can help the work of God advance despite opposition.” The Lord’s work
rarely goes unopposed because Satan is constantly trying to stop the work of the
Lord. This principle is based on the opposition experienced by both Zerubbabel
and Nehemiah. In both cases, the “adversaries of Judah” (Ezra 4:1) were
Samaritans – descendants of Israelites who had mixed with the Gentiles, and
they were opposed to both the temple and the wall.
Who are the adversaries faced by the
people of God today? America was founded by Christian-Judeo people who came to
the New World for freedom to practice their religion. The majority of Americans
today are Christians, but Christians and Jews are treated with disrespect by
the culture, the schools, and the politicians. Conservatives tend to be more
religious than Democrats. This shows in the support or the lack of support for
such things as abortion and gay marriage. This site claims that religious
persecution is worst for Christians, then Jews, then Muslims, and then atheists.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke at
the priesthood session of General Conference in April 2009 on the topic of “We
Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down.” He referenced the story of Nehemiah
who was repairing the wall around Jerusalem when his adversaries tried to
distract him from his “great work” (Nehemiah 6:3). President Uchtdorf spoke of
things in our lives that cause us to lose our focus on the Lord’s work.
Our Heavenly Father seeks those who refuse
to allow the trivial to hinder them in their pursuit of the eternal. He seeks
those who will not allow the attraction of ease or the traps of the adversary
to distract them from the work He has given them to perform. He seeks those
whose actions conform to their words – those who say with conviction, “I am doing
a great work and cannot come down.”
Your “great work” may be different
than mine. Missionaries are doing a “great work” in taking the gospel of Jesus Christ
to more people. My sister is doing a “great work” in family history work and
keeping the records of our family. Other people do a “great work” when they
take family names to the temple, while still other people do a “great work” in
teaching and training their children to become kind and responsible adults. My “great
work” at this stage of my life is to share the lessons I have learned in my
nearly eighty years. One of those lessons is that education and/or advanced
training are essential for being successful. One way that I am teaching this
lesson is working on my own degree. A part of this lesson that my grandchildren
are learning is that getting an education is easier at younger ages.
We all have to discover our own “great
work” because we each have different talents and gifts. Heavenly Father will
help us to discover what He wants us to do, but He wants us to study it out and
then go to Him for counsel and confirmation. I encourage you to discover your
own “great work” and move forward with it.