Nehemiah and His God-sized Vision

J.J., My Little Brother

A big part of my adult life has been the Big Brothers Association of Windsor and of Toronto. I have been a Big Brother to 3 boys and a mentor to another boy.

My first little brother was a boy named J.J. He was the quietist and shiest of the 4 boys. There is one thing that really sticks in my mind regarding him. J.J. would get something in his mind and on his heart and he would do it.

I remember when he was about 13, he started putting pictures of motorcycles on his wall. And wouldn’t you know it, by the time he was 17 years old, he was driving his own motorcycle wearing a black leather jacket.

When he was about 16, I remember asking J.J. what he wanted to do after high school. He said he wanted to be an architect. A few years later, he was attending Lawrence Institute of Technology in Michigan, taking an architecture course. The last time I saw him, he was finishing an architecture degree at the University of Ottawa and working for a firm in that area.

J.J. was someone who would get a vision in his mind and a burden on his heart, and then take the steps to make it happen. His dream became a passion which in turn became reality.

If you think about it, many worthwhile things which we accomplish in our lives, go through a process like that. We get an idea in our mind or begin dreaming a dream which begins to capture our heart. It then grows in our imagination and it finally takes hold of our soul at a deep enough level which results in taking action.

The Birth of God-sized Visions

We see God work through many Bible characters in a similar way. God gave Noah the vision of an ark, and he built it. God gave Abraham a vision of a land and a city and he looked for it. God gave Moses a vision of a freed people and he was used by God to lead them in the great Exodus from Egypt.

God gave the Apostle Paul a vision of evangelizing the whole world, and he covered the earth with message of Christ. God gave William Carey, the father of Protestant missions, a vision to reach India with the Gospel, and he went and the modern Protestant missions movement was birthed.

Nehemiah and a Rebuilt Wall and People

The Book of Nehemiah opens with Jerusalem still in ruins from the Babylonian invasion and exile of most of its population 170 years before. The Persian King Cyrus allowed the Jewish exiles to return before Nehemiah comes on the scene.

One hundred years have already elapsed since Cyrus’ decree to allow the Israelites to return to Jerusalem. But the walls of Jerusalem are still broken down, and the Israelites  are greatly discouraged (Neh. 1:3,4). We see that Nehemiah cares enough to ask his brother, who has just returned from Jerusalem, about the state of the city and its inhabitants. He then begins to weep and pray because of the sad report. He himself fully identifies with the brokenness of his fellow Jews (Neh. 1:4-11).

God then gives Nehemiah the faith, vision and the passion to see Jerusalem physically built up and its inhabitants spiritually built up. Vision is looking at life through the lens of God’s eyes.

Nehemiah could have easily had an indifferent attitude toward Jerusalem and its inhabitants……He was the cupbearer to the Persian King, the most powerful person in the world. He was in the royal court. He had position and influence with a world emperor. He ate well and lived comfortably.

But with the eyes of faith and with a heart burdened for God’s people and work, he saw the new thing God wanted to birth. Nehemiah ends up going to Jerusalem, and through his leadership, the Jerusalem wall, which had been broken down for 170 years, was rebuilt in a remarkable 52 days (Neh. 6:15).

God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine according to His great power and mercy that is at work in us and through us. But we need to learn from someone like Nehemiah. We need to care enough to ask, to weep and pray, and then be willing to become the answer to our prayers.

It pleases the carnal man within us to rail against difficult circumstances and to rail against people and to do nothing. But the Lord calls us to wail to Him in prayer and to be a servant in this world, willing to invest ourselves in His work.

QOTD: As you look around you, what really burdens and bugs you?

This may be the birth of a God-sized vision of transformation.