“Loose lips sink ships.”
While challenging to say ten times fast (try it, I dare you!), its meaning has far more weight behind it. This clever World War II slogan warned civilians and military alike – be careful of what you say. A casual conversation about your loved ones’ whereabouts on a ship could be compromised by the enemy to locate them and attack them. Careless talk is dangerous because it could lead to the sinking of the ship. Be careful of what comes out of your mouth!
Nehemiah seemed to understand this principle well, although it was before his time. He had just arrived in Jerusalem, the homeland of his people, the place of the vision the Lord put within his heart. While much work was to be done, he didn’t get started right away. Instead, he took a tour of the city in the most conspicuous way:
I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on… The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work. – Nehemiah 2:11-12, 16
After a much-needed time of rest (he traveled 800 miles), he covertly checked out the condition of the walls. Here’s what we know from the text:
- “He had not told anyone” (v. 11, 16) – Only a few trust escorts went with him.
- “Set out during the night” (v. 12) – Although it might be easier to inspect the walls in the daytime, Nehemiah’s desire to start his mission in secret was far greater.
- “No mounts” expect his (v. 12) – More mounts means more animals, leading to more noise. He wanted to draw the least amount of attention possible.
Why go through these lengths, which seems to make the process more strenuous? What’s with all the secret spy stuff?
Nehemiah knew that…
TO EXECUTE THE VISION, YOU START WITH DISCRETION.
I do not doubt that God has put a vision in your heart. Even if you are unsure of how it will come to pass, no matter how ridiculous it seems, the vision will come to pass in His timing. In the meantime, steward the vision that He has given you.
In other words, He gave you that specific vision for a reason, so how will you take care of it? Are you praying that the right opportunity will arise? Are you asking for the Lord’s favor regarding the people and resources part of that vision? Are you listening to the Holy Spirit on the details of that vision?
No one will care more about the vision in your heart than you do! Before you talk to others, operate with discretion; tread carefully on what you will say and when you will say it. You do not want to speak prematurely and have the enemy seize an opportunity to sink your vision before the timing is right.
“Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” – Proverbs 2:11
Nehemiah was exercising wisdom by having discretion. He knew that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had contacts with the neighboring nations. If certain citizens found out – his secret could be sold out.
In fact, we find out later that two of Nehemiah’s enemies, Sanballat and Tobiah, are connected by marriage to priestly families in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 13:28; Nehemiah 13:4, respectively). Enemies on the outside would have the inside scoop! If Nehemiah spoke too soon, his enemies could have the advantage to thwart his efforts in seeing his vision come to life.
The application of this message is challenging, especially if you are the ‘go-getter’, ambitious type. You’re probably thinking, “what’s with all this waiting stuff? The vision should have been completed yesterday!”
I completely understand, but God’s timing is the best timing. If we run ahead of God, that is presumptuous, and we can fall. If we hesitate and hide from God, we neglect what He gave us. Either one is not in step with the Lord. Instead, the desire is to steward the word, vision, and plans faithfully.
Therefore, I encourage you to sit with that vision and pray through it. Whether that is God’s vision is for you, your family, your participation in church, whatever it may be – ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about it. God gave you the vision, so invite Him in the process.
I believe that the right timing will come when it should be shared and to whom you can initially share it with – those you can trust and who will lift you up. Until then, be discreet so you can lead your life with wisdom as you pray through the vision God has for your life.
God bless you, in Jesus’ Name,
My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. – Proverbs 5:1-2