What is it you want?

The king said to me, “What is it you want?”
- Nehemiah 2:4

Nehemiah leaps over his fear and delivers a verbal jab right at the king of Persia: “Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” To our surprise, the king invites Nehemiah to keep going.

The king recognizes a request when one is on the way. His question to Nehemiah gives Nehemiah permission to ask away. But this is more difficult than it first appears.

Can you imagine if your boss or Senator or spouse or small group leader asked you this open-ended question? Imagine you had to answer on the spot. No take-backs or follow-up-later-because-I-just-remembered-somethings. What is it you want?

We often are only in touch with the surface of our desires. We rarely dive into their depths.

This is part of what makes Nehemiah’s experience so extraordinary. He has the desire to see Jerusalem restored but also knows what will be necessary to make that happen. He will have an answer for the king (as we’ll see on Friday).

What about you? What is it that you want? What is it that you want with your relationships, with your vocation, with your life?

Perhaps the Lord is asking you today to pause and plumb those murky depths. Take time for it and you may just discover something about yourself and about the Lord.

For today’s closing prayer exercise, try answering the question “What do you want?” three times over. The first time, just list whatever comes to mind as fast and furiously as you can. Then take another pass at it, probing a little bit deeper, a little bit beneath the surface. Then take a third pass at it, seeing if you might find the core.

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