February 23 I Friday
“And because the gracious hand of my God was on me,
the king granted my request. So I went to the governors
of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters…”
After months of praying and having God confirm the burden on his heart, it was time for Nehemiah to take a leap of faith, even though his situation looked impossible. Nehemiah was hundreds of miles away from Jerusalem, and his duties as the king’s cupbearer meant he could not easily leave Persia. This might be enough to make some of us give up hope, but Nehemiah knew God wanted him to act.
His first leap of faith occurred when he appeared sad in the king’s presence. This was an unforgivable sin in the Persian court and could lead to exile or worse, for kings were to be shielded from anything unpleasant. However, God gave King Artaxerxes a gracious disposition, replacing anger with concern over what caused his servant grief. In that moment, Nehemiah prayed to God and asked the king if he could return to Jerusalem to help rebuild the city.
The Bible tells us Nehemiah was “very much afraid” during this conversation (Nehemiah 2:2), but he did not let his fear get in the way of beginning the work God had called him to. Nehemiah knew the potential consequences if he upset the king, but he was still willing to act in faith because he trusted God to grant him the time and resources he would need to serve. We may also find ourselves uncertain or afraid when God calls us to take a leap of faith into the unknown, but we can do so confidently because God has gone before us to prepare the places we will be journeying to.
We often speak of taking “a leap of faith,” but acting in obedience to God’s calling is really more a journey of faith with each step taken in dependence on God. Receiving the king’s permission to leave Persia was only the first step of Nehemiah’s faith journey. He still had to request an armed escort to Jerusalem and timber to build the city gates. Once in Jerusalem, Nehemiah had to contend with opposing forces who did not want the wall rebuilt. Because of their continual threats and harassment, many of the workers had grown frustrated, discouraged and fearful. There were also Jews who had grown complacent with the rubble in Jerusalem.
Nehemiah could only prepare for each step as it took place, but he remained faithful to God and God remained faithful to him. There comes a time when we take that leap of faith and step into a journey God has called us to. There is no promise of a danger- free mission, but courageous obedience means trusting that regardless of how illogical or impossible the task may seem,
God is in control and will bring His work to completion.
Prayer: Father God, let my faith in You overcome any doubts I have as I do the work to which You have called me. Thank You for preparing the way and walking with me through it. In Jesus’ name.