It seems that this has been the coolest weather we have experienced all fall. I did get out to run a few errands. Debbie was able to come home a little early, so I made a trip with her to the new Costco and had a hotdog! Business is certainly booming and one of the reps told us the store is setting some records for new membership and sales activity in just the first few days.
I had a spinal tap that was scheduled for next week, but I cancelled that appointment. That was not something I was looking forward to and I don’t feel that my condition requires it. I will tell the doctor that I will up my game as far as my exercise discipline. I do have another test with my urologist that has been postpone that I will need to reschedule, so I am giving some priority to that.
We are looking forward to having some friends over for dinner tonight. Craig and Cyndy Luzinski will be joining us along with Rod and Jenny Carlson some friends ministry friends of ours that are in town for a few days.
BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. “…If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it….let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” Nehemiah 2:5,7,8
Nehemiah has been fasting and praying for an unknown period of time. He finds himself one day before the King performing his duties as the cupbearer and the King notices the sadness of his countenance and asks him “what is wrong?” The precarious position Nehemiah was in was reflected in the statement that he was, “very afraid.” This had dual ramifications. To be sad in the presence of the King could be perceived as an affront to his leadership and the duty of a servant who was there to make the King “glad.” Nehemiah also knew that he had to ask a question, a big ask, that could place his life in danger as well.
In my life in ministry, in politics, in the nonprofit world, I have found myself in situations were I felt I was making a “big ask” of someone. I know that anxious feeling and trying to summon the confidence to get the words out. For me it was just the risk of rejection or losing “face.”
There was much more at stake for Nehemiah than this. So Nehemiah asked for time off from his duties to visit his people in Jerusalem and find out how they are doing and to be involved in a rebuilding project. The King inquired about his plans and how long he was going to gone. We don’t know the specifics of Nehemiah’s response but the King granted his request. That was miracle one. The King said “yes!” and Nehemiah was still alive.
Then Nehemiah pushed the envelope. Not only was he granted an extended leave, but he went on and with courage asked for protection for his journey and for the supplies that would be needed to accomplish the work. Perhaps the King asked, “how are you going to accomplish you plans?” We don’t know, perhaps he didn’t and Nehemiah just cleared his throat and said, “one more thing…”
Over the years, I have read or heard of some pretty audacious “asks” of people to help someone in God’s work. What is interesting is how God used that request to supply a miracle. Perhaps the response wasn’t immediately favorable, but in time God came through by moving the heart of someone to be involved in His work. I also recall the individual who asked a wealthy person for support for a cause and the donor said, “I was prepared to give you twice the amount you asked for, so I will gladly give you what you believe you need.” Sometimes the limitations of our own trust in God allows us to miss out on a greater blessing for our life.
What I observe in Nehemiah’s bold request is that it was a prayerful request. When the King asked Nehemiah what he was requesting, the Bible says, Nehemiah “prayed to the God of heaven.” Nehemiah didn’t have time to “seek the Lord” but he was able to quiet his mind and quickly ask the Lord for help and favor. What is conceived in prayer has to be birthed in prayer. Mark Batterson simply says, “miracles are the by-product of prayers prayed by you for for you.” (The Circle Maker, pg. 16)
When Nehemiah received a favorable response from the King, he recognized it as from the hand of the Lord. “And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.” The favorable response not just out of the kindness of the King, it was not the eloquence or charisma of Nehemiah, it was possible because God’s hand moved on Nehemiah and the King’s heart. When something of this magnitude happens it causes us to lift our hearts in praise to God for His faithfulness. And God’s faithfulness gives us the courage we need to move forward in what He has provided.
Sometimes it is hard to imagine but remember, “God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. His offended by anything less.” (Batterson, M. The Circle Maker, pg. 13) James simply said, “you have not because you ask not.” (James 4:3)
Over the last year Debbie and I have learned about asking. We have learned to ask people to pray “bold prayers”, we have learned that we need to ask people to help us in various ways instead of grinding through life on our own in the midst of a lengthy hospitalization and ongoing recovery and all the uncertainties of life. It hasn’t always been easy, but the result has been God using others to be a blessing in our life.