Tuesday Re-mix –
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4
What breaks your heart? What hurting people, what injustice, what dire circumstance haunts your prayer life and moves you to tears just thinking about it? What physical or emotional or Spiritual need in someone’s life has God placed before you and you just cannot stop thinking about it? If there is a ready answer to these questions, then I strongly suspect there is an assignment from God coming your way. I believe that, as you continue to take that “issue” before the Lord in your prayer life and when He continues to press it back into your lap, you have a clear directive from Him. It challenges you, it stresses you, because you feel absolutely ill-equipped to do anything about it. But as you pray, God just continues to keep it before you, and you come to what Henry Blackaby calls “a crisis of belief.” He goes on to say, “What you do next will reveal what you believe about God.”
Nehemiah’s example is startlingly relevant. He sat and listened to a report from his “brothers” about the goings-on in Jerusalem. If 10 of us had sat with him and listened to that report, most of us would have felt the pain and perhaps some of us would have been moved by it. But only Nehemiah was haunted by it for days or weeks, to the point it became an obsession for him. Because only Nehemiah was being given this assignment from God.
That is the way it works. God places a need before you and it truly moves you to action. Nehemiah shows the right way to respond to it: prayer, planning, and a “white knuckle, deep breath moment” before his boss, King Artexerxes. But I also think it is worth noting what Nehemiah did NOT do. I think there are some clearly WRONG responses of which we are often guilty:
1. Ignore the problem until someone else addresses it. It would have been so easy. Nehemiah had a great job (cup bearer to the King), a comfortable living, and was in a position to actually do some good right where he was. It would have been easy for him to just shake his head in sympathy for Jerusalem and then take another sip of his morning coffee and go off to work, hoping that God would send “someone” to help. Admit it. You have responded that same way at times.
2. Go to the King and suggest that he should do something about this. Every pastor I know understands this. They are approached on a regular basis by church members with great ideas that “the church” should do. Sometimes the suggestion is as blatant as “you should do this” and sometimes it is the more innocuous, royal “we” who should do it. But either way, the church member deflects responsibility away from themselves. Unfortunately, that is NOT how God works. It would not be like the Lord to lay something on your heart that someone else is supposed to do…if He has troubled you with it, then take it back to Him and ask Him what you are supposed to do. Then get ready. There is an assignment coming.
3. Form a committee to brainstorm the problem and come up with solutions. How very Baptist of me to say this. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for committees and ministry teams and task forces in the church. But when God gives you an assignment, the initial steps of that assignment are between you and God. Nehemiah did not run out and start telling everyone he knew about this assignment, trying to “on board” as many people as possible. He prayed. He planned. And he took his first critical step, which committed him to this assignment. That is how we respond to assignments from God.
4. Start to work on it, but give up because your friends and family do not share your passion.Interestingly, God probably did not give them the assignment. He gave it to you. So don’t become frustrated when they do not share your enthusiasm for this thing. They may even oppose it. Read Nehemiah. He met more than his share of opposition, and so will you. But if it is an assignment from God, then you already have the only support you need in order to accomplish this thing. You have the creator of the universe going before you.
If you are a follower of Christ with your salvation intact and are prepared now for Heaven, then has it occurred to you that there is a reason God has not yet taken you there? He has an assignment (or two) for you to complete here first. You really should be about figuring that out. There is much work to be done. So let’s get started. First, what breaks your heart?
© Blake Coffee
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