Today’s passage: Nehemiah 1-2
As you may have heard, there is a certain wealthy and well-connected gentleman who advocates building a wall on the border. He believes it will help to keep undesirables out and sees it as a matter of homeland security. Although not everyone agrees with his position, he is convinced the wall will be a key component toward making the nation great again. He has a plan to get another nation to pay for the construction of the wall, even though it doesn’t seem to benefit them in any way and could even create some problems for that nation. Of course, that man is… Nehemiah.
Back in 586 BC Nebuchadnezzar had invaded and wiped out Judah. Seventy years later, those who had returned to the homeland rebuilt the temple. But after another seventy years had passed, the wall around the city was still in ruins. The result was a people group with no national identity who hadn’t taken steps to regroup in 140 years.
Nehemiah finds out the city is still unfortified after all these years and the news devastates him. Even though Nehemiah had evidently never been to Judah, he took it personally that so little had been done to re-establish the land of his. His motivation wasn’t simply the idea that “Make Judah great again!” was a catchy slogan. God gave him a passion to see the wall rebuilt and propel the nation forward. He felt a sense of responsibility to do something about it.
Nehemiah was a well-connected guy. As the head of security in Persia, one of his jobs was testing the king’s food and drink for poison by taste-testing it. One particular day, Nehemiah doesn’t look so well. If you were the king and the guy who checked your wine for poison didn’t look so hot, you’d notice and start asking some questions. That’s exactly what the king does.
Nehemiah prays to God and asks the king for permission to go and rebuild this foreign city. This is a huge risk, since the king could interpret his request as disloyalty or as a threat to his own kingdom. Nehemiah could have come up with any number of excuses why he shouldn’t get involved, especially considering what he didn’t have. What he didn’t possess was any wall-building training on his transcript and no city planning experience on his resume. What he did have was a good job in the Babylonian White House, which he’d be walking away from. The perils to what Nehemiah wanted to do were obvious and were big enough to make the idea seem foolish to most people. But without his boldness, the story of the rebuilding of the wall simply doesn’t happen. The king not only gave him permission, but gave him a security detail and all the resources he’d need.
Are you living courageously? Living courageously means instead of talking ourselves out of getting involved, we talk ourselves into making a difference. It means being dependent on God and willing to take a faith-based risk. It means being counter-cultural and engaging in situations and topics that others are shying away from.
I want to live courageously. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and wonder what MIGHT have happened if I’d only had enough FAITH. Instead, I want to live and lead in a way that would rather take a risk WITH God, than stay STUCK in my comfort zone. What about you?
What wall is God calling you to build? What situation have you been avoiding or postponing because it just seems too big to tackle? What injustice are you especially passionate about? Living courageously means moving forward in faith. Even though you may not be able to rebuild the entire wall in a day, you can prayerfully take the first step just like Nehemiah. Pray about your situation and then trust God as you move forward in faith.