Focus on Your Task

Reading: Nehemiah Chapter 6:1-16

Poor Nehemiah. Here he is, trying to rebuild the wall, and his enemies keep trying to distract him. First they send letters asking him to visit. Then they tell lies about him. Throughout these trials, Nehemiah doesn’t stop working on the wall. He prays often to God. He tries to let people know the truth. He doesn’t get discouraged. In the end, he finishes the wall, and his enemies are the ones who are discouraged. They can plainly see that God is with Nehemiah. Wouldn’t you like that to be said of you someday?

The following story was written by Howard J. Chidley and published in Fifty-Two Story Talks for Boys and Girls in 1914. The book is now out of print but can be read for free online.


If you have been up the Hudson River from New York to Albany by the day-boat, you will probably have noticed a high mountain on the right-hand side of the river by the name of Storm King.

I want to tell you about an eagle that used to live there. He could be seen there almost any day soaring high above the mountain-peak. And many a hunter had tried to shoot him. But he avoided them all. And how do you think he did it? Did he hide from them? No. Just by flying so high that the bullets could not reach him, or, if some chance bullet did reach him, he was so far away that it just kissed his plumage and fell back to earth without doing him any harm.

I wish that every boy and girl were as wise as that old eagle. That is always the way to avoid being wounded by sins: just keep high up above them. I mean by that, when you are tempted to do anything that is wrong, not to stop and argue with yourself whether you will get caught if you do it, or whether you will be happier if you do not do it, or any of these things by which you lose time. But just get right away from it: put it out of your mind.

I suppose you will wonder how you can do that. I will tell you. You have often heard about “wishing-caps,” and how the people in fairy-stories put them on and just wish themselves wherever they want to be, and quick as a flash they are there. Well, there is a wishing-cap that every boy and girl can put on when he is tempted; it is this prayer, “O God, help me not to do this thing which is wrong!” And if you say that prayer, and believe God will help you, it will take you high out of reach of the sin, just as that old eagle flew high above reach of the bullets. For God says that they who ask Him for help shall “mount up on wings as eagles.”

For Further Study:

  • When Paul wrote the book of Philippians, he was in prison in Rome. When the Philippians heard he was in jail, some of them became frightened and discouraged. Wouldn’t you be scared if your preacher, elder, or father were put in jail for talking about Christ? Would it make you scared to talk about Christ? Read what Paul wrote to encourage his brethren in Philippians 1:12-14, 27-28, and 2:14-18. What made Paul happy while he was in prison? What could the Philippians be busy doing, instead of being afraid?

  • Make a list of all the different kinds of work that you can do for the Lord. Now make a list of the possible distractions and fears that the devil could send your way in order to keep you from doing your work. Pray to God to help you learn how to handle these things. Think of how you could fight the devil if he ever sends these problems your way.
Posted in Courage, Holiness/purity, Hope, Patience, Work. Comments Off on Focus on Your Task
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