If Not Us, Who

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The remnant in the province, who survived the exile, are in great trouble and disgrace. Nehemiah 1
 Jerusalem’s wall has been broken down, and its gates have been burned down.”When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven. – Nehemiah 1:1-4
You ask about an old friend – “How is so and so?” The answer is not good, in fact it is downright horrible. The friend is in a terrible situation, so bad that you can see no way out for them. M
Maybe it is grim news like we witnessed this past week,  many were killed, hundreds wounded, and the enormity of it is so overwhelming it leaves you numb.
Nehemiah found himself in that spot. The city that he loved was in ruins.  The people he loved were suffering extreme injustice and prejudice. Scripture tells us Nehemiah was overwhelmed with grief.
He wept for days.
And then he prayed.
Many of us can identify with Nehemiahs situation. We feel the extreme emotions that he felt over situations in our lives, the lives of others in our world. But too many times feeling the emotions is where we stop. We do not do the one thing that is needed most and that is to pray.
Nehemiah after days of fasting and weeping and praying called out to God.
His prayer was not a prayer of hopelessness or prayer to a God who might do something. No, Nehemiah’s prayer was addressed to the One who is Sovereign over all things. Nehemiah reminded God of His Covenant with his people, of His loyalty to those who love him and follow His commands.
After praying for wisdom and guidance and favor Nehemiah put feet to his prayer;

 Why should I not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

 So the king said to me, “Why are you sad, when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but depression.” I was overwhelmed with fear and replied to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should I not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” – Nehemiah 2:2-3
Nehemiah asked the king for permission to return to Jerusalem to oversee the repairs that needed to be made. The King not only granted Nehemiah permission, he provided soldiers to protect them, materials for the work, and letters proclaiming his support of Nehemiah’s rebuilding efforts.
Almost three thousand years later Nehemiah provides an example of what is most needed in our time.

He mourned.

When we see or hear the bad news it is right and good to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn.

He fasted and prayed.

God gave him a plan and Nehemiah acted on it.

But we must not, cannot stop with mourning, and we cannot allow ourselves to become numb.

We pray to understand God’s will and then we act on what he tells us to do

A pastor I know responded when asked asked why he and his wife would decide to become foster parents when they were in their 60s.
His answer?

If not us who?

A very good question one to ask ourselves.
If we do not pray for those around us who are in desperate trouble, for a world that we see in chaos, who will? If we do not reach out to the defenseless, the broken, the oppressed, who will? If not us who? We pray to a God who not only can but will!

We pray as Nehemiah did. When we pray we need to remember we are not praying to a God who is detached, uninterested, who may or may not decide to help us..
Reminding God of his promises his faithfulness and his goodness.
We pray with confidence fully understanding that we are asking God who not only can, but will move in response to our prayers. Faithfully rewarding those who love him and trust Him to answer.
 We pray  to understand God’s will in our petitions, and we ask what He would have us do. And then we act on what He tells us.
Nehemiah’s response was to do what he could do and trust God for the rest.


So it must be with us.
Change begins with prayer
And if we as the people of God will not pray, will not act, will not care, who will?
If not me, who?
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About messagefromthefield

“Now at last they were beginning chapter One of the great story no one on earth has read: which goes on forever”. I love this line at the end of the Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. I believe everyone has a story to tell and more than we know, we are all part of a greater story that someday will be revealed in full. “ For now, we can only see a dim and blurry picture of things”. ( 1 Corinthians 13:12). My story is not remarkable, although the events I have had the privilege in my life to witness have been. I grew up in the south “the land of cotton” and the old times there were definitely not forgotten. I remember where I was and what I was doing when JFK and Martin Luther King were murdered in Dallas and in Memphis. I remember the Civil Rights movement a time of great unrest and change. The dawning of the “Age of Aquarius” in the late 1960’s was also the dawning of my love for playing music, a love that would lead me as Bilbo Bagging in the Hobbit wrote “there and back again” ( ironically the Hobbit was published on September 21st 1937 the same day as my birthday although not the same year). On that October day in 1978 when I was miraculously and wonderfully saved it would naturally follow that I would take that love of music and use it to serve the One who created music. But that is a story for another time. If my life were chapters in a book one would tell of my precious bride of 20+ years who endured so much and stood beside me through the good and the bad. One would describe the blessings of being a father and a grandfather. One would tell about how despite being “the wretch” the song sings about God was able to change me, and use me to make a difference in others lives, make me a servant in His church, and surround me with friends all because of His goodness. All part of a story that has had many twists and turns. I think of the words Jimmy Buffet wrote in one of my favorite songs "As a dreamer of dreams and a travelin’ man I have chalked up many a mile Read dozens of books about heroes and crooks And I learned much from both of their styles" And so it is true for me. But in all of my travels and all I have read and experienced nothing compares to where I am headed. The place where my story ends and the story that goes on forever begins! I love these words that will keep me going through good days and bad, ever headed to that place where the Spirit and the Bride even today says "Come". And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.... and the promise for all who follow Him " I am confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it on until completion until the day He returns". Philippians 1:6 My hope is that as we all run our race that in some small way my words will encourage and speak to you, as your story is being written. And draw you ever closer to the One who loves you. Further up and further in!
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