Nehemiah was just rolling through life. He had it pretty good. Yes, he was living in the citadel of Susa—the center of all luxury. Yes, he worked as the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes—one of the highest positions in the country and he was a pretty happy guy…until he was not.
He was Jewish—living as an exile in a foreign land, but in that he was successful and flourished. However, one day he had a visit from one of his brothers from Judah who drew a picture of the life being lived by the Jewish remnant (what was left of the Jewish people) who had tried to return to the now-destroyed Jerusalem.
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Neh 1:4
This is when life gets really interesting. The Lord gives Nehemiah a vision to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem—to allow a place for God’s people to live and be safe—but Nehemiah had to get over his own fear to take the first step. You see, it was King Artaxerxes himself who had previously declared, “this city (Jerusalem) has a long history of revolt against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition” Ezra 4:19 and followed that up with a decree that no person was allowed to rebuild the gate, walls or any part of the city.
Essentially, he has to go and ask permission to rebuild from the very person who stopped the restoration in the first place. This is where the fun starts.
You see, when we are given dreams by God, He works out opportunities. Nehemiah’s came on the day when the King asked him why he was not smiling. The Word tells us Nehemiah was, “very much afraid” but yet he answered the King. The end result was more than any mind could imagine. Not only did the King reverse his decree, he actually provided all of the materials to rebuild the walls and gates. Generations were transformed simply because Nehemiah overcame fear and was open to the Lord using him.
Has the Lord given you a dream? Has He placed something on your heart that in the natural seems overwhelming and impossible? When this happens, sometimes it is easiest to just let it simmer in our minds and we ignore the small doors of opportunity that are opened all around us. What would have happened if Nehemiah didn’t frown that day before the king? What would have happened if he hadn’t given an honest reply? My guess is that the Lord would have just opened another door—but how many lives would have been lost in the meantime?
Satan will do anything in his power to stop God the progression of God’s kingdom. Perfectionism seems to be the roadblock he places the most before me. God will place a burden in my heart and then I get paralysis by analysis. I overthink it to death and nothing happens.
I need to take some notes from Nehemiah. God didn’t reveal everything at once to him. Step 2 only came after step 1 was done—rather like in Isaiah when they were told to prepare for a growth they could not see—to “enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back” for the descendants will “spread to the right and left and take over nations” (Isaiah 54:2-3). Nehemiah just did one step at a time. The key thing is that he actually took a step.
Paul encourages the Corinthians (and us) to do the same. Intentions don’t change the kingdom.
Now, finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” 2 Cor 8:11-12
This is related to giving of money, but our resources also involve our time and talents. The freeing thing with this is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be what someone else could do. It just is what the Lord can do through you if you open your hands and look for open doors…
Let’s do this!