Nehemiah 2:3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?
Nehemiah shows us a Biblical way of dealing with stress by initially getting our heart right with prayer, and then getting our mind right with planning. The relationship between prayer and planning is incredibly important for Christians, but some believe walking by faith means you don’t plan at all.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth….
Planning is sinful when we take the initiative to move according to our own schedule, or rely upon our own strength instead of Gods. As seen yesterday, this just creates more frustration because we end up pushing against doors that God has closed.
It is not a sin to prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally to walk through the door that God has opened once that happens. In fact, I believe not doing so is sinful!
In Nehemiah two, we don’t see a man who passively does nothing while waiting for God’s opportunity to help Israel. Instead we see a man who is fully prepared to move through that door in a way that glorifies the Lord.
One of the most important part of his planning was thinking things through….
In a way thinking things through could be viewed as using common sense. But I see it as deciding exactly how you would do things beforehand. This doesn’t just involve having a plan, but thinking very seriously about your actions beforehand instead of just acting in the heat of the moment.
It’s interesting that Nehemiah doesn’t use the word “Jerusalem” in 2:3, choosing instead to say “the place of my fathers sepulchers.” The reason why is Artaxerxes and his kingdom were enemies of Israel. If Nehemiah had said Jerusalem, its possible the king would never let him go.
Nehemiah also shows wisdom by emphasizing the graves of his fathers (sepulchres) instead of the wall around the city, which was the serious problem. This is because Nehemiah knew Artaxerxes to be a very superstitious man, who believed dead bodies that weren’t properly buried would return as ghosts.
As we can see…Nehemiah spent lots of time thinking and planning what he would do once God opened the door for a return.
Planning ahead of time, especially the extensive kind Nehemiah was involved in, can be frustrating for us
- It takes lots of time and mental energy
- It’s not the most exciting work
- You cannot see immediate results from it
- And part of us believes that “doing” is always much better than “planning”
This and other frustrations lead many of us (myself included) to skip the planning part of ministry, and go right to the action. But most of the time this leads to foolish mistakes, and added stress.
Faith doesn’t go charging through the door God opens without a thought in the world. It confidently walks through that door knowing the challenges that are coming, and how to meet them in a way that honors Christ.