March 29 I Sunday
“Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of this Your servant and to the prayer of Your servants who delight in revering Your name.” —Nehemiah 1:11
When we read the book of Nehemiah, we will find two themes simultaneously: the accomplishing of a work of God and the making of a worker. As Christians, how do we know if a burden placed on our hearts is from God or simply an emotional reaction?
Nehemiah felt a burden to rebuild the city walls of Jerusalem, which had been left in ruins for 140 years since the Babylonian invasion. God’s presence had left the city and the people were living in disgrace. Nehemiah was heartbroken over this, but it was not out of his sorrow and compassion that the idea of rebuilding the walls came into being. God was the initiator, who placed the desire in his heart. Nehemiah tells us, “I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem” (Nehemiah 2:12).
God is much more concerned with the worker than He is with the work. If we are going to align ourselves with God’s desire for us, it is important to have a quiet, secret place in our hearts where we commune with Him. Psalm 37:4 tells us, “Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” And Paul says, “...for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). In other words, the desires of our hearts do not come from us, but are given and placed in our hearts by God.
The fear many of us have is that we do not trust what we want, because we are not sure whether it is selfishly motivated or what God wants for us. But the reason why it is our will is that we have delighted ourselves in God, and He has given us the desires of His heart. The way God communicates His will is by making it our will and we are drawn along by a desire that not only deepens and grows, but energizes and motivates us.
There are many needs around us but the need itself is not the call. While it is good to ask God to place within us the burden and vision that He wills for us, it is not wise to make impetuous plans of our own. We need to wait until we have sensed with reasonable clarity that this calling is from God, which is similar to Nehemiah’s wisdom to wait and see how the circumstances lined up with the vision of his heart. When all was in place, the immense task of rebuilding the city walls began for two reasons: because it was God’s will and Nehemiah had delighted in God.
Prayer: Almighty God, I ask for wisdom in discerning Your call for me, and for a deep work of Your Spirit, enabling me to fulfill it. Thank You, Lord.