So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. Nehemiah 6.15
The Man Who Planted Trees is the story of an old shepherd in France who did as the title says. Elzeard Bouffier, the central character of the tale, tended his sheep in the lower Alps. The landscape he works in is bleak and lifeless. So he decides to try to make a difference. Wherever he goes, he carries acorns and scatters them liberally. He does this for forty years, until he is no longer able to walk the hills and valleys. By that time trees are sprouting up everywhere. Elzeard, through his simple act of scattering acorns has changed the landscape.
It might be a work of fiction, but the tale has inspired tree planting all over the world! It is amazing what can happen when our imagination is captured, even by something that is just a story.
Sometimes, if we really believe that all of our lives are under the Lordship of Christ, all of the time, our actions have greater implications than at first it might seem.
When Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem rebuilt the walls of their city, their actions had far reaching consequences.
On one level, they were involved in a building project. They were just laying one brick on another. Every person assigned a part of the wall to build and protect. Restoring the damaged gates. Ensuring that the city was once again secure and that the shame of having broken down walls was lifted off its people.
However, their actions reverberated well beyond Jerusalem. Rebuilding the walls changed the way those nations that surrounded Jerusalem now viewed God’s people. Jerusalem and her people had been transformed into a force to be reckoned with, no longer were they an object of derision. Why? Not just because they had secure walls but because the other nations realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.
In rebuilding the walls of the city, the people had built a reputation for God.
As we put our hand to the tasks that God gives us, as we give ourselves to following Jesus, to living for Him, we build a reputation for God. Nehemiah had his opponents. He had his setbacks and disappointments and discouragements. But with God’s help he continued. And God in the end was glorified.
As you set out to live for Jesus this week, may you do so in the confidence that you are building a reputation for God.
Keep scattering those acorns.