Asking the question1
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem.
- Nehemiah 1:1-2
This week we’re going to be diving into the first chapter of the story of Nehemiah. This is the story of a great building project, the people who made it happen, and the great work the Lord did in them during the whole endeavor.
In today’s passage, Nehemiah asks a fateful question. This question would shape the course of Nehemiah’s life. This question sparked Nehemiah’s encounter with his destiny. Apart from this question, Nehemiah would not even have been remembered in a footnote of history.
Nehemiah asked about his fellow-Jews who escaped the exile and about the state of Jerusalem. This seems like a small nail on which to hang a destiny. But God can work with even small nails.
Nehemiah’s inquiry into the people and city opens him up to the possibility of stumbling across the significant subterranean work that God’s doing in history. Unbeknownst to Nehemiah, the Lord has been positioning the right people in the right places with the right resources to perform a mighty and miraculous work of restoration for Jerusalem and its inhabitants. And Nehemiah’s right in the thick of it.
How willing are you to care about what God’s doing around you? Life is busy and full for all of us. Gaps in our calendars fill with mysterious reliability. Monday will be Thursday before you know it. Life has so much to occupy our capacity to care. It’s easier to go through life without asking questions like Nehemiah’s; easier but not sweeter.
Choosing to care does something in our souls. The Lord works with that choice, enriches it and expands it and nourishes it. Choosing to care slips you into the center of God’s great work.
What does it look like for you to choose to care today? What lines of inquiry might the Lord be inviting you to explore as you go through your day today?