(June 22, 2022) Hope Flinchbaugh shares some more thoughts about Nehemiah’s wall building journey, challenging us to know that God has a plan for us…’
It’s hard to leave our comfort zone! And that was the initial challenge Nehemiah faced in moving on from his comfort zone to fulfilling God’s plan for his life.
Being cupbearer to the king – a noted position – meant Nehemiah was in and out of the king’s presence several times a day. He had money, a position that clothed him well and gave him personal honour, a position where he enjoyed a small realm of trust and influence before the king.
When he learned that the exiled survivors of Israel were living in appalling conditions, that the walls of Jerusalem were rubble and the gates of the city were in cinders and ashes, Nehemiah was deeply touched. He immediately fasted, prayed, wept, and was willing to move… but what was the next step?
That must have felt so anticlimactic!
He pours out his heart and weeps and prays and then – nothing. So he waits. And, after the burden of prayer lifted, he may have waited for the perfect time when God would cause his petition (Nehemiah 2:4-5) to come up naturally.
Or perhaps he waited because he was scared to approach the king about this. My guess is that it was a combination of the two reasons. Whatever his reason for waiting, in March/April of 444 BC the king saw that Nehemiah was sad and asked him what was wrong (Nehemiah 2:2).
Now as cupbearer for King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah’s duty was not only tasting his wine to deter any poisoning, but also to present himself of a cheerful countenance before the king, regardless of his personal circumstances or afflictions. Nehemiah’s heart is in his hands, yet he’s required to show up for work and not only fulfill his duties but plaster a smile on his face.
Have you experienced this? Your heart is breaking over some fresh burden and Monday comes (or Sunday comes for you, dear pastor) and you have to get up for work as usual and paste a smile on your face even though your heart is breaking inside?
Be encouraged, God has a plan for you, even as He had for Nehemiah.
I’m so glad that Nehemiah journaled his journey to restoring his people and his city, aren’t you? What we can learn is a great encouragement to us.
People of yesterday went through the same things we go through today… they had needs. Oh we may have ‘servants’ such the like of the washer, dryer, computer, printer, telephone… and our transportation has gone way past horses and chariots: which we use and appreciate for they serve us well. But the various inner struggles of the soul remain the same in our day as they always have. In Nehemiah’s case, despite his troubled heart, he was required to put on a happy face before the king!
Nehemiah was only a cupbearer, not the Secretary of State. Yet it was significant that he was chosen for his task because obviously the king trusted him enough to allow him to be close in proximity during intimate dinner conversations with his staff and with the queen. Can God trust you to serve him?
This cupbearer had served his king dutifully, but there was a higher duty calling him now – a duty that superseded that of serving the king’s wine. God was calling Nehemiah to restore the wall, the gates, and the culture of his hometown, Jerusalem.
Making your impact
As various Bible versions of Isaiah 14:27 declare that nothing, no one, can annul what God has planned… and Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord’, I challenge you regarding leaving your comfort zone and fulfilling God’s plan for your life.
Perhaps the Lord has called you to restore a place or a family or people group that is broken down and in an appalling condition. Even if you are in a waiting period, trust God. God has a plan. He always has a plan.
Trust Him to show you His perfect way, the way that will make an impact for eternity. Maybe you’re to write down your story so that the next generation can learn from you, even as we are learning now from Nehemiah’s journal.
Seek your God. He will grant you the peace to wait and the courage to take the first step when the time is right. In part 5, we will learn more from Nehemiah’s story, his journey from comfort zone to conflict, conquering and completion.
Hope Flinchbaugh, editor-in-chief of Hope Editors, a special team helping publishers and authors, has also written three historical fiction novels and two nonfiction books.
Hope’s love for children is evident in her delightful Baby Babbles series… available from Amazon Author Page or International Orders Here and her I Come to the Garden Alone is an inspiring daily devotions booklet. Link: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com