6th May - Thought For The Day - Responding To God's Invitation
Words by Bev Jones
Responding to God’s Invitation
One of the things that I’ve realised over the last few years is that I never know how big my God is until I need him to be bigger than I think he is. And the times that I discover that, are the times when I’m doing things that ordinarily I wouldn’t be able to do. Those times when I have to rely totally on God’s strength because I’m way out of my comfort zone.
I imagine that’s what happened with Nehemiah once he’d felt God urging him to travel to Jerusalem to re-build the city walls. He went from being a Government official to a building contractor, but as the story unfolds, you can see that God is always walking before him. He’s always prepared the way. And every step of the way, Nehemiah commits to God. He prays constantly – about everything. Even as he’s asking the king’s permission to leave for Jerusalem, he’s praying. He’s desperate to restore the city walls and though he was frightened – he wasn’t ashamed to admit that fear and didn’t let it stop him from doing what God had put on his heart.
Photo by Raph Howald via Unsplash
Having been interrupted by God and leaning into him, he receives the vision of re-building the walls, continues to pray and develops a plan which he begins to put into action. He must have realised that he couldn’t do this on his own, but all he’s concerned with initially is responding to God’s call. We see at the end of chapter two that when he goes public with his plan, there are people already there willing to work with him. God has gone before and prepared other people with the same desire to see the city walls re-built. We have thousands of churches across our nation – many of them in very deprived areas, and many of them doing incredible work, but it appears that we’re taking very little territory.
Photo by Andrew Ridley via Unsplash
Metaphorically, the walls of our villages, towns and cities are in ruins, leaving people susceptible to the prevailing culture. A culture that is no longer significantly influenced by a church with the gospel message at its heart. Is it possible that we’ve been so busy with our own programmes and projects, so worn out by continuing to do what we’ve always done, that we’ve become almost immune to the brokenness and the decay around us? If so, will we allow God to interrupt us, to break our hearts with what breaks his, and then to give us a vision of how He wants things to be? As we lean into God in this time of interruption, what is He putting on our hearts? Are we getting a vision of what the church of the future may look like, and what it means to be God’s people in these days? Where and what, is God wanting us to re-build?
Karl Martin suggests that,
‘ the shaking of our culture in these days is an invitation for the people of God to do some shaping of the culture.’
All around us we’re seeing examples of people doing things differently – we’re seeing the walls of community being re-built, the walls of kindness being strengthened, the walls of generosity being fortified. Different ways of extending friendship, compassion and love to a broken world, and people are looking for signs of change. Perhaps now is the time to begin the re-building, to take back some territory, to dream bigger dreams and to experience just how big our God actually is.
‘You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.’ C.S.Lewis