Ren and I are part of an apprenticeship class studying Nehemiah. An assignment we have each week is to identify one thing that stands out to us from the study of the scripture.
What I noticed immediately was Nehemiah asks some men who had just arrived from Judah how things were going in Jerusalem for the Jews who had returned there from captivity. The news wasn't good. The walls of Jerusalem had been torn down and the gates destroyed by fire. The people are in great trouble and disgrace. It's in shambles.
Then verse 4 says
4 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted,
and prayed to the God of heaven.
That thought caused me to ponder. Why was his grief so strong?
What made him cry?
Nehemiah was not born in Jerusalem. He was born in Persia.
What caused his heart to break over a place
he possibly had never even been to before?
Though he had no personal ties, he had heard - probably his whole life -
about this city.
That had to come from someone else.
How he was raised as a child
What his parents taught him
The people who had invested in him his whole life.
He had the respect for God's law, God's city and God's people
Because it had been passed on to him from someone else,
Someone who also had a passion for God's law, God's city and God's people.
Most likely that came from his parents, his mentors, his teachers.
That awareness was powerful for me.
One of our classmates captured how Nehemiah's position as the cup bearer
could have turned his head.
He had lived in Persia his whole life.
He had a good life.
As a cup bearer he had a high rank in the royal courts.
He was thoroughly trusted by the king
He was living with the king
Under the protection of the king
Heard by the king
That's a prestigious position.
It was a place of recognition- for sure.
His head could have been turned, but he continued to hold dear the passion
That had no obvious reason to be his passion.
Except that God had planted it in Nehemiah's heart
God planted the dream
planted the people around him
established resources to be at his disposal.
Even for Nehemiah to come to the point of grief over this news of Jerusalem
Was testimony to a work that God had done in him already
Nehemiah may have heard of Ezra- who was part of the rebuilding of God’s city,
the regathering of God’s people
Maybe he was inspired by the work Ezra was doing.
Nehemiah had this passion built into him, planted in him by God
Nurtured by parents and mentors
Grown as he saw a need
His heart broke when he saw the need
Nehemiah was able to make a significant difference
He was willing to be patient
He did the think work behind the scenes to prepare for the moment
He did the work that needed to be done
So that when the time came
When the king opened a place for Nehemiah to speak to that need
Nehemiah was ready
But that started long before Nehemiah heard the news of Jerusalem
And got sad
It started with all that happened in his life ahead of that
My question is…
What has God planted in your heart that is part of a need that you see
that is part of your purpose from eternity
Part of what breaks your heart now.
Whether you have done something about it yet or not
Which may be a question of obedience to something God's calling you to
But the question is asked now
What has broken your heart?
What is the need that you see?
What are the resources God has given you in your skills abilities, gifts, personality?
That are part of you speaking into that need?
All of this awareness spoke to me personally. I've been very aware that the book I'm working on is not just a decision I made over the last few month. This book, currently called EnVision You Unstuck and Confident Is a compilation of topics I have been passionate about since high school & college.
Making a difference
My gifts, abilities, personality, my story and even my scars
This is all part of a dream God planted in me
Part of the need he gave me eyes to see
And ears to hear
And a mind to understand
And a heart to feel for the woman who also struggles to be
Make a difference
Be who they are made to be
Very much like Nehemiah- I'm passionate about rebuilding, not a wall around a city,
but a body of work that helps women to rebuild lives,
Work that has helped me rebuild my own life.
Based on a dream- an insight- a transformation
That has been planted in me from eternity
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
What has God planted in you?
What is breaking your heart?
What is the new thing- which may be an old thing
That God is inviting us to
In this moment.
Are you ready?
Whew! Only 4 verses into Nehemiah and I've already seen a lot. We can learn a lot from someone’s story. What are you learning these days?