I just love Nehemiah. My son and I studied this book of the Bible one year and the benefits of that study continue to bless to this day. What a delight to find him in this week's Bible Lesson about God, the only cause and creator. So how to look at this story with fresh eyes? This morning I am appreciating the way Nehemiah went about this project for it gives me such comfort and strength to see how God will anoint me and appoint me with my own tasks.
Nehemiah was captive to King Artaxerxes but obviously loved him and served him well. He had never appeared before him with sadness before and the king noticed this at once and asked the cause. Now Nehemiah knew he need to proceed with care and he prayed before he answered the king. His sadness was for his home city of Jerusalem, destroyed by invaders, left defenceless with the city gates burned away. So the king poses this question: "For what dost thou make request?" Nehemiah was not asking for retribution, revenge, or punishment to those who had done this thing. This is such an important moment and we have all had moments like this. We are sad about some wrong and it is apparent to those around us. They might ask us this same question. It might be your spouse, your parents, your children, your boss, a fellow church member. Just what is it that you are asking for? Pray deeply and earnestly before you put that into words, much less actions.
Nehemiah asks permission to leave his duties and go to Jerusalem. At this point in our study my son and I worked with Mrs. Eddy's definition of Jerusalem found on page 589 in Science and Health. We did not want to 'see' Jerusalem as 'mortal belief and knowledge obtained from the five corporeal senses; the pride of power and the power of pride; sensuality; envy; oppression; tyranny'. This is what the mortal sense would present as something needing healing. We wanted to stay with the spiritual definiton of Jerusalem as 'home, heaven'. That Jerusalem was already perfectly intact, never under attack or defeated by an enemy, ruined or desolate.
Nehemiah prayed, communed with God, and then proceeded as the way opened up.
I love the way he approached the city, protecting his mission, keeping it quiet as he gathered information so that when he did speak with the inhabitants they were receptive and ready to help. He was able to tell them that God was with them. He makes a request and again it is granted.
I see this pattern often in my own life and love watching God at work. And like Nehemiah, when I am about my Father's business I encounter opposition in one form or another from those who do not understand or may even resent what I am doing. But with Nehemiah as my guide I can stand up to the error and rebuke it without personalizing it. I can always 'watch and pray' first and then the way opens up to proceed.
The city is rebuilt and those who resisted or doubted admitted that the work was supported by God. That is what I want to see with my work each and every day, each and every hour, no matter how big or small the challenge may be at that moment. I never need to present a sad face to the world for I know I can bring this request to God and my Father will open the way.
Thanks for the reminder, Nehemiah.