I was recently reminded of Nehemiah’s story … here he is, a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. A servant who was tasked to choose wines for the king and to taste them–first, to see if they were “fit for a king”, and secondly, to make sure they weren’t poisoned. (The Kings of Persia had just a few enemies in those days)
The Jews were returning to Israel from captivity, and Nehemiah’s brother had returned to Persia with some bad news: the walls of Jerusalem were obliterated, the gates burnt, and Jerusalem was a “disgrace”–walls in that period were not just for protection, but a status symbol as well.
Nehemiah was destroyed–he mourned for the loss of his nation’s seat of power. He prayed night and day for forgiveness and favor.
Artaxerxes noticed his distress and asked him, “What can I do to help?” Nehemiah, the ol’ lowly cup-bearer, didn’t ask for a day off, or maybe a nice vacation to the hills. He asked for a leave of absence to go rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, free passage papers throughout the kingdom, and permission to get the best timber from the king’s forests. Pah! Might as well shoot for the moon!
And Artaxerxes said yes.
And not only that, he gave him a contingent of soldiers and horsemen to accompany him!
From Wine Taster to Wall Builder
So again, the wine-taster returns to Jerusalem, and takes on the task of rebuilding the wall. Despite opposition, he rallies the citizens of Jerusalem, and through generous gifts of money, supplies, and manpower, the walls are rebuilt in a miraculous 52 days. (Which would be practically impossible to match even today!)
Okay, so why am I talking about Nehemiah? I have to say I feel a little like him–setting off, knowing that “if you want a job done, you must do it yourself.” Feeling despair, not because of a broken wall, but of a broken generation–a generation of youth that are lost, that know there is more but can’t quite get there: They have a million excuses, but can’t commit. They have no idea what real church is, what real friendship is, and what real victory is.
Then acting it out in boldness, with nothing more than a prayer for favor, and building the kingdom from the ground up. That’s my job in developing the training center in a nutshell–building from the ground up.
What broken walls are in your life right now that need building up? Do you have the passion and faith–but maybe not the skills? Make the first step, make the big ask, and you’ll be amazed …