I hope your 2023 is off to a great start, and you found time to relax and refresh over the Christmas holiday. I am still getting back on track with work and thinking through how to re-tool some processes, procedures, and systems that failed me in 2022.

If you missed my 2022 reflections episode, you can find it over at https://rockingchairdevotions.com/122

Over the past couple of years, I have focused my new year’s series on building habits to help you grow your spiritual practices. They included:

  • How to develop a Bible reading habit
  • How to develop a prayer and journaling habit
  • How to set goals
  • How to develop a Sabbath rest

These are good, but as I closed out 2022, I found myself becoming increasingly more distracted. I am not sure it was the amount of change or transition I experienced in 2022 (which were all good things) or if it was something deeper.

As I looked around, I began to see that others found themselves in this state. Our work and family commitments were increasing, and people were getting tired.

I admit, I was getting tired, and that led to distraction and even apathy in some cases.

Tony Hawk’s Focus

While traveling for work near the end of the year, I came across a documentary of Tony Hawk titled Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off. For those who don’t know Tony, he is a skateboarding legend.

The opening scenes of the film show him crashing and burning on a trick over and over and over and over again – in fact he crashed so many times, I lost count. And by the way, he was around 50 years old.

I grew up watching Tony Hawk – he was amazing. He pioneered trick after trick after trick. He was relentless in his pursuit of perfection. He became hyper-focused on nailing a trick perfectly, and he would sacrifice his body for that perfection.

He also was unsettled. He was in pursuit of the next big thing. He loved to skate, and that’s what made him a great pioneer.

The story is beautiful and twisted with family dynamics that challenge the best of intentions, and he never wanted to stop innovating.

His focus drove him to great heights.

Nehemiah’s Focus

For the next few weeks, we are going to look at the life of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a prophet in the Old Testament who had found favor with the King of Babylon.

Nehemiah was a Jew, more importantly, he was part of the exiled Jews who had been captured and held by the king.

When the Jews were exiled from Jerusalem, the city gates and walls that protected it were destroyed. Nehemiah wanted to go to the city and rebuild it; however, there was one little problem, he was in exile and he was afraid to ask the king’s permission.

Nehemiah says in Nehemiah 6:3,

“I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down right now.”

Today, I want you to stir on this little phrase. The Jews were in the process of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, and were being oppressed by their enemies.

Nehemiah had, had enough and when the enemies came calling, he said this phrase to them,

“I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down right now and meet with you.”

What great work are you doing right now?

What great work do you want to do right now, but you feel distraction all around you?

Do you want to develop new habits this year, lose weight, invest in your spouse or children or write a book?

The new year offers us a chance to reset our expectations, our goals, and our priorities. By nature, I am a perfectionist which leads to many missed opportunities.

Maybe this is the year you read through the Bible or get out of debt or add a side hustle or make your family a priority.

Encouragement & Challenge

This week, take a few minutes to think through the great work you want to accomplish in 2023, and what you would have to do to accomplish it.

Write it down, and pray over it as you the Lord brings it to mind or in your daily quiet time or when you look at it.

Did Tony Hawk ever land that trick from the beginning of the film…yes, he did. He persisted until he landed it, no matter the cost to his body, and then he walked off the ramp satisfied with his efforts.

The other piece of the good work that we want to accomplish in 2023 is being satisfied with our pursuit towards the good work.

I hope your great work includes something big that only God can deliver for you!


Lord, thank you for your goodness, your protection over our lives, and for instilling in us a desire to be amazing. I pray that you would rest upon each listener, and give to them their good work that You want them to accomplish this year. Please help us to realize that we can accomplish more with You then without You. Amen!

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  • Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off – available on Hulu
  • Win the Day – Mark Batterson

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Hi, I'm Dave Anthold. I am a small group leader, short-term missionary, and visual storyteller. You can read my story here.

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