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Nehemiah 2:4-5 – The king said to me, "What is it you want?" Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it." (NIV)

I have been through a difficult season in my life, and I am on the other side of it. Life is healthier and happier, and definitely saner! But I find myself still "stuck" — no longer in the old way, but not yet on a new path. I pray, asking God for direction, and I get angry at Him, and myself, that I am still in "limbo". Inert. Not moving forward.

I came across Nehemiah's story during a lectio divina exercise. Nehemiah faced three difficult challenges: first, to leave the king and go to rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:4-5); second, to continue to build the walls of Jerusalem despite opposition (Nehemiah 4:7-15); and third, to address the peoples threatened by Jerusalem's new power symbolized by the intact wall (Nehemiah 6:5-9).

Each time when Nehemiah faced a challenge, he first prayed, and then, he moved! Nehemiah had faith that if he were seeking God's will, God would guide him and protect him as he moved forward. Nehemiah trusted that God would correct him, and bring his steps into alignment with God's will.

Unlike Nehemiah, I have been standing still, afraid to take a next step without knowing exactly where God wanted me to stick my foot, afraid to make another mistake. I was praying, asking for God's guidance. But I was also waiting for that lightning bolt or thunderclap, that external voice saying, "Yes, go this way." I have been doubting my own ability to hear God. I was failing to trust in God's sovereignty, depending upon myself to hear, and not upon His ability to make Himself heard.

I thought about the GPS device in my car. I plot my route, and a lovely voice tells me the next step. The voice doesn't tell me the whole journey at once, just one step at a time. The voice doesn't tell me much of anything if I sit still in my driveway. The next instruction will not come until I am moving forward. If I make a mistake, and turn left instead of right, the GPS corrects me.

Bravery is taking action despite feeling afraid. Faith in God's goodness and sovereignty means taking a step forward without always waiting for the rainbow or voice from heaven. Nehemiah's story reminds me that when I feel stuck, I need to pray, seeking God's guidance, and then, I need to move, trusting Him to lead me and to correct me if I am off His path.

Prayer: Dear Lord, You alone know the path that You have laid out for each of us. We align ourselves with Your will for our lives. Nurture in each of us the faith to rely on You fully as we move forward, and the bravery to take a step forward when the path is not yet clear to us. Amen.

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About the author:

Katherine Bell <>
Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Awesome devotional.

    So good to see your message.

    Thank you, Katherine Bell, for today’s Insight. Just what I needed to hear!

    I thought I knew PEI after many trips and holidays but I didn’t recognize Richmond.

    Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me that God is always there for us.

    Good word Katherine.

    I enjoyed your devotional. It is the advice that we all need. Just take a step.

    Thank you, Katherine, for sharing this devotional with us. Praying for faith to step forward. Blessings.

    This is a keeper… as I can often find myself similarly stuck. Thank you for your inspiration. Blessings.

    Thank you for your message. It has explained to me the struggle which I am experiencing and the confusion as a result. It has been a great help. Again, I thank you. God bless.

    Thank you, Katherine.
    Blessings Always,
    (ON Canada)

    Katherine, I enjoyed reading this devotional today. Thanks for sharing.
    Blessings on your day!

    Thank you for your devotional. I have been stuck many times waiting for the thunder and lightning. I love your GPS analogy. I will remember it.

    Good job! I enjoyed (and needed to hear!) this message. I have forwarded it to five others. I used lectio in a service I led a couple weeks ago. Such a great teaching tool. Good start to Monday. Thank you.

    Good Morning Katherine!
    What a meaningful, helpful devotional you have written. Thanks!
    I particularly liked the analogy of the GPS (with which I could readily identify!).
    Have a wonderful day and keep ‘moving’!

    Hello Katherine,
    So pleased to read to the bottom of today’s devotional and see a familiar name! Thank you for the insightful and thought-provoking message.

    This is very helpful. I think it probably involves taking one step and then listening, otherwise indeed you feel stuck. I will try doing that on a couple of situations today.
    Thanks for encouragement, which we all need.

    Dear Katherine,
    Thank you for sharing the insights God has given you through your experiences. The analogy of the GPS is very apt, and the reminder to move in the Lord’s strength and wisdom is one we all need.

    Thank you, Katherine, for sharing your story. I sometimes wonder because our family is in such a good place when will the “bombshell,” drop. Then I remind myself of faith and trust in the Lord. Nehemiah’s story is a good reminder that God is in charge and if we will just listen, we will receive the appropriate reward.

    Dear Katherine
    Thank you for your much needed devotional.
    I am not sure if I am at the beginning or the middle of my whirlwind but I do pray God will guide me and fortify me.
    May He bless you and strengthen you always.

    Hello Katherine.
    WOW, this one really spoke to me. I feel stuck, not moving forward, nor even sideways. I pray about it, then I listen and still see nor hear anything.
    My dilemma is found in Proverbs 21: 9 and 25: 24.
    One step at a time, just like my GPS says.
    It’s not about everything turning out OK, but rather about being OK with how everything turns out.
    Do I ask for lighter load or broader shoulders?
    I can do all things through Jesus who strengthens me.

    GPS, well we like it as well but I am the “nagivator” as my husband calls me.
    Anyway, I also have a map because our friendly lady on the GPS does not always know that a bridge is out. It was telling us to go right and I am saying you must go left. I must be prepared. We went left turned right then turned right again to get around the road without a bridge and would you believe she never said a word such as turn around and go back. All was quiet finally it was recalculating. Too funny but I still need my map for that 1{8395b6ce96fcf25a14d80edc3b65c36a8995b6c1ba5f8c16ac11d8adaa79f35b} of the time there is a bridge out.
    Enjoyed your writing.

    Great reminder, Katherine.

    A good lesson, Katherine. God told Joshua to get going, too! Thanks for your message and wherever you’re headed I pray for God’s guidance for you.

    Thank you Katherine, for your wonderful devotion. It was so meaningful for me on a day when I had to take my husband to hospital by ambulance. Today I will drive back down to the hospital and wait and pray for his next round of tests. Different modes of transportation … same destination.
    What a beautiful example Nehemiah provides, and what an appropriate analogy the GPS is to our lives and our dependence on God’s guidance and faithfulness. Keep writing, Katherine.
    Blessings always.

    Hello Katherine – I just read your devotional about being “stuck” and then praying for direction. I have also felt the same way and when you mentioned getting angry with yourself and with God. I thought, yes, I know that feeling too well! I lost my husband and I still ask God “why”. Some days I feel so alone and I question what my purpose in life is now. I am very busy with my family, church and volunteer work but, it’s returning to an empty house each time I go out — that’s tough! I am fortunate to have my faith and I do pray often. I know there is a reason that things happen the way they do (God has a plan for each of us). Anyway, thanks for your message today. It helped me to see that we all struggle with the same issues and we can find help from God and each other along the way. Blessings.

    Dear Katherine,
    Thank you for encouraging all of us who are stuck with wisdom from the Bible. May we all pray and then move forward trusting in God’s good guidance. May you have a blessed day.

    Dear Katherine, My impression was that you are in the process of moving on. Maybe not as quickly as you would like, but faster than you realize. God is sending you little signals every day – like moments of unexpected happiness. Think of all the little things that have made you happy today. He sent me one today – He made it possible for me to see you again. God gave you many gifts, one of them is faith. Just rely on that faith.

    Dear Katherine,
    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5).
    I pray that God will lift you out of any doldrums you might be feeling, set your feet on the Rock, Jesus Christ, and help you not only to stand, but to go forward in His humility, grace, and power.
    Thanks for your devotional.

    Hi Katherine,
    A very good devotional about taking life and the things to do one step at a time.
    Thank you for writing.

    An excellent illustration, Katherine! God bless you as you continue forward with Him! This is a good reminder for all of us when we tend to waver and doubt ourselves!!
    (NV, USA)


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