Monday, July 18, 2011

Obstacles and Tasks

“Give your servant success today, and have compassion on him in the presence of this man.” (Nehemiah 1:11b)

These words at the conclusion of Nehemiah’s much longer prayer suggest that something in Nehemiah’s mind, something unstated, constituted success.

Here’s the situation. Nehemiah, a trusted advisor and cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, received a report from the exiles in Judah. They were suffering because the walls of Jerusalem had been broken down. They had no place of safety. Nehemiah responded by weeping, mourning, fasting, and praying for several days before lifting his prayer of confession and supplication to the Lord. At the very end of his prayer, he asked for success in the king’s presence that day. Success in what? Clearly, he had something in mind.

We do not know for certain because it is unstated, but we might safely surmise that God was calling Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem to lead the effort in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. But Nehemiah faced what everyone faces who has been given a mission: obstacles. For Nehemiah, his obstacles included his position in the king’s service, his responsibilities, the lack of authority and freedom to make the decision, and a lack of resources to complete the task. Formidable obstacles all. His only chance for success was for the Lord Himself to intervene and give success.

Anytime God gives us a task or a mission, we will experience obstacles, and only with His help will we find the resolutions and the resources. Thus, our foundational task is to first go to Him, to seek His face, and in that context then seek His hand.

Lord, We trust You to provide us with the resolutions and resources to carry out Your tasks and Your mission, and we, therefore, turn to You. Amen.

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