Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Ivory Palaces"1 (Lyrics)
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.