Out Of Your Comfort Zone; Sent By The King
In the previous article of this series, we were preparing our hearts for the New Year, and taking note of Nehemiah and his posture of prayerfulness. I wonder how the start of your year has been since then?
My year has started straight away with a brand new job, which has needed many Nehemiah-style prayers! It’s also made me remember the feeling of being completely out of your comfort zone.
Maybe you’re out of your comfort zone in another way this year: in a new classroom, starting a new project, or feeling daunted by some area in your life that’s coming up this year. Our hero-of-the-month Nehemiah brings wisdom and encouragement for us in this area too.
For when we’re out of our comfort zones, God is always at work.
After Nehemiah’s devastating news in Chapter 1 about the destruction of Jerusalem, Chapter 2:1-9 is where the action starts to happen. Read on…
Nehemiah is right back to work, and he’s with his boss: King Artaxerxes. The king notices the crestfallen Nehemiah and wonders if he has some January blues of his own:
“I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”
Nehemiah is afraid, but bites the bullet and chooses to speak courageously:
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 ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
The king said to me, “What is it you want?”
Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favour in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.
And the story doesn’t finish there. Not only does Nehemiah ask to rebuild the walls under the permission and generosity of the king – he also boldly asks for a lot MORE generosity from the king (in a whole lot of detail – read verses 7-9 if you’re interested!).
And guess how this God-directed conversation ends?
And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.
This encounter is a HUGE encouragement to me! It begins with Nehemiah going about his normal day-to-day, and feeling a little bit daunted. It ends with the king of the land granting Nehemiah EVERY resource he needs to do the work of God - and all Nehemiah had to do was stay courageous and prayerful. What an example!
Let’s explore a little more just how encouraging it is that God used Nehemiah in this way…
1. Out of our comfort zones
Nehemiah was totally out of his comfort zone here, and the passage tells us that he felt nervous to speak to the king so openly. Sometimes, we can pray that we’d be used by God, but we feel nervous about what that would really look like – are we up for the job? Can we muster up the courage?
But let’s notice here in verse one that the king speaks first. God ordains the encounter so that all Nehemiah had to do was to be obedient and speak courageously.
And we can take this same approach whatever our situation: praying patiently, speaking courageously, and staying obedient to whatever God calls us into – even when it’s a person or situation we find intimidating.
2. Sent by the King
Secondly, we can remember that we are sent by the King. We are sent by God into every situation we find ourselves in. We are sent by God to make disciples and build His Kingdom here on earth.
Nehemiah finds himself sent by King Artaxerxes in this passage, but the result is beyond his wildest dreams – evidence of God, the ultimate King, at work in the details.
As I read the last bit of this passage and realise that Nehemiah was granted such abundant resources to do God’s work, I am hugely encouraged to remember that God gives us ALL we need to do His work. No request is beyond his control. No resources are beyond His means. He doesn’t just provide the bare minimum, but pours out resources and blessings in abundance.
Nehemiah leaves the king’s quarters equipped beyond measure (and all at King Artaxerxes’ expense) - ready to do the work of our God.
I believe this is where we find ourselves today, ahead of a new week: prepared with everything we need to do good works; daughters of the King who meets our every need and more.