Friday – The Rest of the Story
By Paul E. Collier
“Remember me, O my God, for good.” Nehemiah 13:31
The victories in the life of Nehemiah were many! It is such a blessing to read how he stayed vigilant in spite of the opposition and finished the wall. His accomplishments inside Jerusalem were also impressive. But the story doesn’t end there.
That is where we want our stories to end, “happily ever after!” Our marriages begin as fairy tales and we talk little about how they ended. We brag about our children’s triumphs and remain silent when they fail. Reality sets in and we must deal with the disappointments, regrets and failures.
Nehemiah, in chapter 13, rolls up his sleeves and sets the details of the failures in the city in order. He deals with reality. He doesn’t give up. He won’t be defeated. Failure will not be the rest of the story.
The New Life Church in Asunción was the dream of all church planters. It was a growing, prospering, and dynamic ministry. It was one of the largest evangelical churches in the city. When we left Paraguay in 1999, we left a healthy church with two full-time pastors and a growing staff. Mission accomplished! We were so blessed as we began our ministry in Costa Rica.
Then our Nehemiah 13 was written. The senior pastor of the work in Paraguay began changing the biblical, sound doctrine he had accepted and preached for so long. He took a path of even publicly denouncing me and my ministry in Paraguay. His way would detour the future of the church. He eventually was removed from the ministry. How could it be? So much work in the foundation of the ministry seemed to disappear. It was difficult to accept.
What I learned was that God is not defeated in man’s failures. I continue to have several hundred Paraguayan friends on Facebook who I shepherded. Among them are pastors, missionaries, evangelists and pastor’s wives. They have remained true to the Gospel. How my heart is blessed by sharing with them the blessings of the Lord. God continues to write the story in the lives of faithful men and women in Paraguay.
Can you understand the heart of Nehemiah when his last words were, “Remember me, O my God for good?” He wanted to have a strong testimony to the very end of life. We don’t have to give up when things crumble. We can do our best under the Lord’s guidance and glorify Him. We need the tenacity and determination of Nehemiah to press on for good. We can do “all things through Christ who strengthens us!”
Bible Reading Plan - Day 5