First of all, Nehemiah was someone I could identify with on a very personal level. He was a servant of the King and he had a very big request... a request that was actually foolish to even ask. Why would the king dismiss him from his personal service to go and let him rebuild the wall of his people, a group that had no significance to the king himself? Why? It says right there in Nehemiah 2:8 "And the king granted these requests, because the gracious hand of God was on me." This reminded me so vividly of our time in the courts of St. Petersburg. There was no reason for the judge to grant such a frivolous request as to waive our ten day wait. After all, what kind of reasoning is it to say that there were bushes in bloom around the orphanage that caused our daughter a nasal allergy and she wasn't able to enjoy the outdoors? Total nonsense stuff that shouldn't have mattered a hill of beans to a tough judge who NEVER waives the ten days for young children, and yet... the hand of God proved His graciousness and His power over all earthly dominions. She waived the ten days to the shock of every person in the room. So, I could identify with how Nehemiah must have felt that day. Maybe Nehemiah had more faith and fully expected the king to grant his request, but I have to admit that no one thought my prayer would be answered specifically, everyone thought that God would answer my prayer by giving me peace about the ten days, not by waiving it. But then, in Nehemiah 2:9, God goes even further. "The king, I should add, had sent along army officers and horsemen to protect me." Yes! God provided even MORE than Nehemiah expected. Isn't that so like God!
Then we come to Nehemiah chapter 3 where it describes and lists all the people who worked on the wall. It says that Zabbai "zealously repaired" an additional section. I love that there is a role call, but Nehemiah throws in that Zabbai was ZEALOUS in his work... wouldn't you have loved to be working next to the guy whose zeal was worth recording for all time? And I start to think how Nehemiah is great, but maybe I want to be like Zabbai! I want to be the one working so zealously that it's worth recording.
Which brings me to the non-brick-layers in my path this past week. Last week I asked a friend if she would like to go with me to hear Katie speak in July when she is in the US. Her reply, "I respect that this is your passion, it's just not my thing." Now, I will confess that I physically took a step back from her when she said that. I felt myself move backward, involuntarily, as if I had been pushed. And I let her off the hook too easily, to be honest with you. I pushed back a little, but not enough. Because I've been thinking about it for the next five days. I've relived the moment and ALL the things I should have said. First of all, I should point out that I am not asking anyone to bring home an orphan (well, okay, maybe I am, but not this particular person.) I am simply saying that we all have a brick to lay on the wall of eradicating the orphan crisis. It may not be "your thing" to bring an orphan into your home (though, I could probably go there, I won't....) it is definitely your thing to support orphans in some way. Why? Because it's my "thing"? NO! Because God says it's your thing! God specifically asks us to care for our brothers and sisters who have nothing. He tells us if we have two cloaks and another has none, it's our duty to give one to that person so that he too can have a cloak. Believe me, I'm failing on miserable scale in this area... I'm preaching to myself here as much as I'm preaching to anyone. But He specifically names the orphans and widows in His request to us to be His hands and feet to those He cares for. So, it IS your "thing" IF you are a follower of Christ and a believer. Now, for some, they cannot "go" so they "give", they cannot "give" so they pray. They pray and support and spread the word and they SPEAK UP! That's my shame, I honestly didn't speak up enough. The world would say that I needed to be gentle in my reply so as not to turn this person off completely. And I was. But I also feel I failed her and God by not delivering a grace filled reply that would have left her thinking a little harder about whether she was missing an opportunity to draw closer to God.
Because in the end, I do believe it's all of us that are building this wall for God. We are taking meals to the poor, the widows, the disabled. We are caring for women in crisis pregnancy situations, we are babysitting unruly children while their homeless mothers go for job interviews, we are praying for orphans and those who are caring for them (like Katie and like every other person in the adoption process), we are giving donations, buying t-shirts, or telling someone about the 147,000,000 and how THEY can lay a brick too. We are visiting widows and widowers in their loneliness. We are "recruiting" brick layers every day for the Kingdom. And we are living our ordinary, crazy, busy, unorganized, worn-out, sinful lives in the midst of it all and it doesn't make sense and it doesn't "feel" like it's supposed to, but it's definitely not a surprise to God, I know that much! What is a surprise to me is that we have wealth beyond our imagination today... even in the midst of a world recession, we have abundance... not "enough" but MORE than enough. And it's a disgrace that in the midst of our bursting wallets and cupboards, there are orphans starving for all that we have (clean water, love, food, clothing, medicine, even just a band-aid.)
"I replied, 'The God of heaven will help us succeed. We, his servants, will start rebuilding this wall.'..."