This blog has been written by Ceri and Simon Harris and is the second of a series of blogs on Nehemiah
We are experiencing tumultuous times. We know that times of great disturbance or disaster follow three broad phases:
– Response: the immediate emergency response to the situation
– Recovery: the long slow period of getting back to a new normal
– Reconstruction: the long term rebuilding, and protection from a future reoccurrence
We see that Nehemiah went through these same stages. In this series of three blogs we are exploring his journey and seeing what lessons we can draw in being attentive and responsive to the voice of God.
In the first blog in this series –The Response Phase – we saw how Nehemiah heard the voice of God in the midst of disaster. Now as the recovery phase gets underway and the task of building the walls of Jerusalem begins we see, in this second blog, Nehemiah’s responsiveness to God’s voice.
1. His active response was thoughtful
I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. Nehemiah 2:11-12
Nehemiah’s response was thoughtful. He didn’t rush but travelling around he made an honest assessment of the land. Having allowed the full weight of God’s word to rest on him in chapter 1, we see in chapter 2 that he allows the true reality of the situation to sink in. This will be no quick fix or shallow response but allowing the the truth about the situation to become clear.
What do we need to be more thoughtful about?
2. His active response was in community
Nehemiah knew that responding to God’s word needed to take place in community.
Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.’ Nehemiah 2:17
Chapter 3, which follows, is a marvellous picture of a community hearing and responding to the word of God.
Where are we trying to go alone when God’s plan is to go with others?
3. His active response was all in
So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. Nehemiah 4:6
Their whole hearts were engaged. This was no half-hearted, luke-warm response but in response to God’s word they gave it everything that they had.
Where are we going through the motions but our hearts are not engaged?
4. His active response was resolute
Nehemiah and the people were attacked from within and without. It’s always the same when we respond to God’s voice. Attack is near far away, but they were resolute in standing firm.
They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. 9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. Nehemiah 4:8-9
Where do we need to be more resolute?
5. He active response was compassionate
Nehemiah was compassionate. When we are gripped by what God has said we can be aggressive and a little harsh in our desire to see it done. But Nehemiah allowed compassion to be at the centre of the community.
Remember me with favour, my God, for all I have done for these people. Nehemiah 5:19
Where have we developed a hard edge because we are trying to get the job done?