Posted by: mikenicholsblog | April 19, 2015

if He calls, He will guide

Truth be told, most of us want to live tidy, comfortable lives. We are willing to give to special causes, and to even be involved in those causes to a certain extent, but there are often limits to how much we want to be involved. You may even find yourself in a tug of war between opportunities to serve and minister, and your own personal desires.  If you are a Christ-follower, make no mistake, you have been called to serve.  Because of your willingness to read devotional articles, I am taking for granted your willingness to step beyond your own personal comfort and genuinely seek to impact others. Could I be so bold as to ask, “Are you sensitive to the leading of the Father in ministering to others?”

He wasn’t a priest or a prophet, but a lay person like most of us.  He was exiled from his homeland and, quite frankly, had made a good life for himself.  Nehemiah, a Jewish exile, had every human reason to simply enjoy the high position as a cupbearer to the king. After all, he was more than 700 hundred miles from the city of Jerusalem, still living in Babylon. Couldn’t he just have affected lives for good right where he was living? Wouldn’t it have been okay for him to have kept blinders on and not ask questions about what was going on in Jerusalem? Sometimes we think our lives will be easier if we just don’t ask questions, because the questions tend to create a battle between personal comfort and God-given opportunities.  Not Nehemiah!  

Nehemiah’s brother Hanani had returned to Jerusalem when the exiled captives came back to Babylon with some other men.  Nehemiah asked some questions about the Jews who had escaped the exile and about Jerusalem.  He got his answer in Nehemiah 1:3-4:

And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

The answer to Nehemiah’s inquiry was not “convenient.”   People were suffering, and the wall of Jerusalem was in rubble.  The city gates had been destroyed by fire.  This could have been one of those times of great regret over having asked the question.  Nehemiah, however, was moved deeply.  He wept, mourned and began fasting and praying.  God prompted him to do something about the plight of Jerusalem, and he obeyed.  We read the story and see the epic work that Nehemiah led, but I wonder how much emotional pressure he endured in staying the course, working for the king of Persia. He, no doubt, knew the road he was taking (back to Jerusalem) would be one of less comfort. Yet he chose it … and did it!

The book of Nehemiah could qualify as a leadership manual — Nehemiah led the people well. It could also be a manual for faithfulness in prayer and great confidence in God. The book tells the great story of the walls of Jerusalem being rebuilt against opposition in 52 days. Miraculous!  When he was faced with the sad story of his homeland, Nehemiah chose to seek God, pray, fast and take action. The results were nothing short of astounding.

My subject, as I began writing this post about Nehemiah, was prayer (stay tuned later this week). By the end of the first paragraph, I felt the Spirit leading in a different direction.  All Christ-followers are confronted with the emotional conflict between comfort and obedience to the Father’s leading.  If you are in the midst of that conflict today, choose to follow His call … whether it’s a gentle nudge regarding an everyday decision or the heavy burden of a career change, relocation, etc…  If He calls you, He will guide you!

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