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The biblical story of Nehemiah led Rachel Watkins to reflect on her family's role in building the Kingdom of God.

As a cradle Catholic, I never know how to feel when I learn something ‘new’ from the Bible. I am at the same time embarrassed that I don’t recall ever hearing it and absolutely gobsmacked to realize -- again -- of the treasures to be found in the Word of God.

Nehemiah? Do you know his story? I knew the name, sort of, and could recall his story, sort of, but did not recall one important detail of this period in the wide-ranging story of the Israelites.

His story could be read in one sitting but be warned there are more than a few complex Hebrew names to tackle. He takes on rebuilding of Jerusalem, along with its culture and laws, with both struggles and successes.

It is Chapter 3 that drew me in as Nehemiah seeks to rebuild the walls surrounding Jerusalem. He was able to tackle a huge portion of the wall in mere days by assigning each family just one portion to build: just one.

He goes into great detail how from one spot to another families such as Malchijah, son of Harim, did his work while next came the work of Shallum, son of Hallohesh (Neh. 3:12). The list of names goes on when, at the end of chapter 3, comes the truth of their work, “The people worked enthusiastically.” (Nehemiah 3:38).

And this is our challenge, in our corner of the world. Each of our families has been given by God a small part of the world to build, or rebuild. None of us has been called to save the entire world as that can only be done by God and has been done by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. But, we all have our own work to do; a mission as it were, your family needs to find and commit to -- working enthusiastically.

In my family, we are beginning a new section in the portion of the wall assigned to us. We are working on launching a few of our older ones out into a challenging world, including planning a winter wedding. Meanwhile, back at the dining room table, our last three continue to be homeschooled. Beyond that, we have answered God’s call in other ministries such as teaching NFP for a time, helping out in our small parish, and my work with Little Flowers Girls’ Clubs.

Each of our families has been given by God a small part of the world to build, or rebuild. #catholicmom

Let’s be honest, though, keeping up the enthusiasm Nehemiah speaks of can be a struggle. Every family is different, but all families have their own struggles. Me? I have been parenting my large family over 30 years and homeschooling over 25. Real malaise could set it if you sit down and actually tabulated just the loads of laundry that creates, so don’t.

However, I can retain real enthusiasm if I remember my husband and I are responsible for only one small piece of God’s wall. We can rest in the knowledge other families (like yours) are taking care of theirs. Our commitment to the work is also helped when we remain committed to the work asked of us alone, not letting ourselves be distracted by what others are doing; as if their work is somehow better.

So, be encouraged! If you decide to read this slightly obscure book you will be reminded that God fights with you (Nehemiah 4:14) and told, “Rejoicing in the LORD is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10) Perhaps these two reminders alone will bring new enthusiasm to the work on the wall assigned to your family.

Copyright 2020 Rachel Watkins
Image: Lucas Pezeta (2020), Pexels