I absolutely love physical labor. I know... Weird. I love to cut grass, trim branches, sand stuff, sweat... you get it. It feels good! But when it comes to the day by day work of restoration, I don’t like it one bit.
Nehemiah. He was a cup bearer for the king. The wine taster. It was a cushy job but required some humility, risk and really some amazing situations to be picked for it. But here he was, day after day, tasting and presenting wine to the Persian king. Meanwhile, his people (the Israelites) had been freed to head home - released from captivity. To a place that had been riddled with devastation by the enemy of God’s people.
This moment was sandwiched between the glorious era of Solomon and the harsh reality that followed with the destruction of it all due to the disobedience and rebellion of God’s people. The beautiful rise of Jerusalem, the peace, and the fruition of the construction of God’s temple gave way to its capture and devastation for generations to come. Disobedience yielded consequences that last hundreds of years. All seemed lost.
Sound familiar? Yep, for me too.
But the Lord wasn’t finished. He recognized the heart of Nehemiah. A servant, a compassionate soul, a lover of the Lord, and a worker. And He called Him out of the Persian palace to go and actively begin the restorative work of Jerusalem... the city of God’s people.
It took guts but, even more than that, it took the perfect timing and work of the Lord to work everything together for restoration to begin. God didn’t speak the wall back up... although he could have. He instead chose a willing servant to pick up the first brick. A servant who had faith in the God who was bigger than the devastation.
I would challenge you to read the 13 chapters of Nehemiah over this Thanksgiving time and picture yourself and your life here. Ask the Lord to help you see yourself in the pages. I personally see myself as the rebellious children who were afraid to return home, as Nehemiah who felt a calling to go, as the wall lying in a heap, as the crowd who mocked a bit at Nehemiah’s first brick,... I’m all over this story.
But the greatest blessing for me is to fix my eyes on the true King who has a plan for restoration in my life. He provides the strength, the way, the authority, and the hope. His restoration is found in Jesus and He has made a way to heal ALL manner of destruction I have experienced.
Will you respond to His calling and have faith? Will you pick up the first brick and be willing to look past the destruction, to silence the jeers of the enemy, and to believe the promise of restoration that the Lord is offering? It’s not easy, but brick by brick, He will strengthen us to declare that He is making all things right again!