Monday of this week, our family left for a mission’s conference a few hours away in what can only be described as hardcore, rural Africa. Not 100 percent sure what to expect this time around, we ventured into the relatively known land of South African barbecues with the other guys there. But something was different.
“We’re going to be doing a study on the book of Nehemiah this week.”
Nehemiah is a really great example of setting a godly example for others to follow. When Jerusalem was completely pillaged and burned down (in the book of Nehemiah, nonetheless), he stepped up to the plate and went out at night in order to see how he could fix it and glorify God to the best of his abilities. However, he was constantly bugged and demeaned by those who weren’t okay with change. But he was the type of guy to take charge.
My favorite example of this sits around the beginning of chapter 6.
“Sanballat and Geshem (Nehemiah’s primary foes) sent me this message: ‘Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.’ But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: ‘I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?’” Nehemiah 6:2-3 (NIV)
He wasn’t going to step down if it meant compromising his mission for God. What makes this considerably more impressive is the previously unmentioned fact that, while Nehemiah had a go-getter personality, he was also merely the cupbearer to the king. Even as a cupbearer, though, it’s shown that he had a relatively close relationship with the royal family.
“…I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” – Nehemiah 2:1b-2 (NIV)
This awesome verse demonstrates clearly that the king and queen cared about Nehemiah enough to observe his state of being on any given day.
This next passage is on the lengthier side, but I feel like it’s a prime and powerful example of the lengths God will go to help his people.
“I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, ‘May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?’ 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 favour in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.’ Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, ‘How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?’” – Nehemiah 2:2b-6a (NIV)
God can use and will use anyone in any given situation. Even as Nehemiah showed respect to the king by stating, “May the king live forever!”, he (the king) temporarily waved it aside and gladly jumped to the service of his fellow friend and cupbearer.
Courage. Humility. Setting a godly example for others to follow. These are all the traits of not only Nehemiah (though he had them in spades), but of every follower of God who’s willing to push aside distractions and shoot straight in the way of giving the glory to Him.
That’s what reckless abandon is all about.