Nehemiah’s journey is one of prayer, then action. Prayer, then action. Not action, then prayer, but prayer, then action. The meaning of our action comes from the very prayers we prayed before, throughout, and after that action. Actions are meaningless without conversations with our Father. Actions are meaningless without coming before our Holy Lord in humility, in desperation for His direction, for His ‘go ahead.’ Nehemiah only acted after he prayed. And he didn’t just leave it at prayers; he was confident in acting because of the prayers. Prayer doesn’t leave us in unrest. Prayer changes us. Prayer gives us confidence. Prayer makes us brave. Brave enough to build. And that’s exactly what Nehemiah did – he prayed, he went, and he built.
So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. And I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my mind to do for Jerusalem… So I went out at night by the Valley Gate in the direction of the Dragon’s Well and on to the Refuse Gate, inspecting the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were consumed by fire… Then I said to them, ‘You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.’ I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work. | Nehemiah 2:11-17
Nehemiah went out with direction. How often do we act with no direction? How often do we make moves, big moves, without any direction from the Lord? Well, I’m a pro at making decisions that make sense to me. But that’s the problem. I’m not all-knowing and all-powerful. I don’t hold everything thing in my hands. I have no control. Nehemiah had it right. I have it wrong. God is the one who gives us direction. God is the one who gives us any and all good ideas. Without Him, we can’t even try to get it right. We would never come close.
So, Nehemiah went out in confidence, with direction, from God. He wanted to prepare himself for what the Lord was calling him to do. He had to know what was broken first. God prepared the way for him to go and see. And God gave him the confidence to move forward in building. According to the passage above, it’s clear that God put a team into place to help Nehemiah do exactly what he was supposed to do. And hopefully you didn’t miss this – “I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me…” It’s never about Nehemiah. It’s about HIM. Nehemiah knew it wasn’t his great idea. It was all God. God has the great ideas. And for some reason, He chooses us to be His hands and feet. Amazing. Humbling. Makes no sense. Right?
What’s even more amazing and humbling than Him choosing us to build, is seeing the building. A few years ago I was in a place of uncertainty, which is where I’m finding myself now, too. But at the time, I wasn’t sure where God wanted me. New York or Houston. They both had pros and cons. I left it to the Lord. I wouldn’t have made the right decision if I hadn’t. After several months of praying and having no clue of what the next step would look like, God made it clear that Houston was where I needed to be. I knew coming back to Houston wouldn’t be easy. Looking back, so many things were broken down. So many things needed to be rebuilt. Fast-forward to now and I see buildings. I see skyscrapers, I see homes, I see the start of construction. Would I have seen God’s faithfulness if I hadn’t obeyed? I prayed, I went, and He built.
God always works wonders. It’s up to us to be on His team. I wouldn’t trade anything for being on the Team that always wins.