Nehemiah and Detroit, Pt 2
At the end of chapter 1, Nehemiah prays a prayer for Jerusalem and for his people.
Now, Nehemiah was the cupbearer for the king which basically meant that it was his job to make sure that no one poisoned the king’s wine. Obviously, this was a very trusted position for the king, reserved for only a person that the king regarded as above reproach. Nehemiah was still very concerned about the city he had been moved for.
“’Why does your face look so sad when you are not sick? This can only be sadness of heart,’ the king said.
I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, ‘May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?’
The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’
I prayed to the God of heave, and I answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.’”
In Biblical terms we call this a Hail, Mary! I can imagine Nehemiah hearing the king say, “What do you want?” and looking up at God and saying, “Well, here goes…” and blurting out his request. He felt moved for the city of Jerusalem and he put himself out there to see if it was God’s will for him to go there.
“Then the king asked, ‘How long will your journey take…?’ It pleased the king to send me.
Okay, Nehemiah threw up the Hail, Mary! and the king caught it. He caught it and said go for it. The door was kicked wide open for Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem to do the work that he felt called to do.
Nehemiah felt like Jerusalem was his calling, but it would have been easy for him to feel that pull but rationalize himself out of it saying, “but that can never happen” or “but I won’t be effective, what do I know about Jerusalem?” or he could have played the community card, “I don’t know anyone there…” He could have felt his calling, but talked himself out of it. That would have been really easy to do, and said later “obviously that wasn’t my calling.” Instead, Nehemiah put the calling to the test. He said, If this is the calling God has for me, let him make it happen. But it took a step on his part, in this case, asking the king to send him to Jerusalem.
I felt called to inner-city work, so I sent a couple of emails, seeking a field that I could work in, and within a day my friend Kate sent me a link to the church where I am working now. I applied for jobs at the church, and was tentatively hired within a few days. I threw my Hail, Mary! And Kensington caught it and said, “come on!”
There were, and honestly are still, times when I wish this wasn’t my calling. Working in the city can be hard, can be sad, can be difficult and can be discouraging. I hardly knew anyone here. I didn’t have much community. But when you answer your calling, God takes care of those things. When you do your part, God does his part.