Plan in Private, Present in Public
By: Patty Nicholas-Boyte
“So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. And I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding. So I went out at night by the Valley Gate in the direction of the Dragon’s Well and on to the Refuse Gate, inspecting the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were consumed by fire. Then I passed on to the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was no place for my mount to pass. So I went up at night by the ravine and inspected the wall. Then I entered the Valley Gate again and returned. The officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; nor had I as yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials or the rest who did the work. Then I said to them, “You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.” I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work” ( Nehemiah 2:11-18, NASB).
Can you almost picture Nehemiah secretly riding around the city three nights in a row? I imagine him and a couple of trusted men on their horses. Nehemiah with a sketchbook in one hand and the reigns in the other. The Bible says there was no animal except those they rode on. This meant they were quiet.
Nehemiah was through getting his knowledge from second hand sources. If he was going to pull off a rebuild of the city walls, he needed to see things for himself. He needed wisdom, and he needed to formulate a plan. None of which could be accomplished if he relayed on other people to show him their version of the situation, or hearsay commentary from enemies inhabiting the city waiting for him to fail.
I am guessing Nehemiah was a type A planner, because he gave the king an estimate of how long it would take to accomplish the task and return to his job. He needed all of his God given skill to access the situation, in the dark, without detection.
When he had gathered all of the information needed, he held a meeting with the officials and nobles. Nehemiah stated something these men already knew, they were in a bad situation. Desperate even. Jerusalem, abandoned. The walls, crumbling and the gates burned. Yet, Nehemiah told leaders that God had been favorable to him. We don’t have his whole speech, but it must have been stirring because the response was . . . “Let us arise and build.”
That is a good example of how our response should be when called by God to do something. “Yes, let us arise and _________” fill in the blank with your own calling.
What can we learn from Nehemiah?
- He did not rely on second hand knowledge, but investigated the situation for himself.
- He made a thorough assessment of the situation, and then formulated a plan before he called the meeting.
- He rode around the entire city three times. He saw the situation from all sides of the problem.
- He stated the indisputable facts
- He told of the incredible favor of the king, and how God had already provided for their building needs.
God had uniquely gifted Nehemiah for the job of rebuilding city walls of Jerusalem that is for sure, but Nehemiah also committed everything to prayer. He walked in his gifting, but he maintained a close relationship with God and only did what he knew God had called him to do.
What questions can we ask ourselves that can affect change?
- What have I used second hand knowledge to make decisions? What do I need to investigate for myself?
- What plans have I come up with on my own without all of the facts?
- Are there any plans for things that I need to hold my tongue until I have looked at the problem from all sides?
- Am I walking out my calling?
- Have I acknowledged the favor and provision already granted by God?
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