Q: Did anything give you chills when writing A Great Work?
That’s a really odd question. Except that I have an answer.
I was looking at chapter 8 of the book of Nehemiah. It’s the one where Ezra starts reading the book of the Law, and the Levites start translating it, and everyone starts weeping, and Nehemiah tells them that it’s a day of celebration. I had read it several times. I had taught it twice. I had even preached it.
And then I started looking at where the people were standing when Ezra started reading. And then I thought about how the leaders filed onto the platform. I thought about where the sun would have come from. And I thought, “did it come up over the Mount of Olives?”
I looked at some maps, talked to a couple of people who had been to Jerusalem. It probably did.
And then I thought about what Ezra would say, where he would start reading. And I realized that, although there is no way to know for sure, it is possible that he started with “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God.” Sh’ma.
And at that moment, watching the sun, hearing those familiar words, I got chills. The scene came alive.
You know, I had started working with this memoir thinking about a “how to” manual. In fact, in the first version of my teaching, I created an 8 week series. But over and over, with moments like this, I realized that this wasn’t a “how to.” There are no quick steps to spiritual success. (Although I did include a list of all the lessons from all the chapters. Nehemiah and I ended up with a few lists.)
My goal shifted from writing a recipe book to helping people understand Nehemiah better.
I hope it works.