My blog has moved!

You will be automatically redirected to the new address. If that does not occur, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The God-Honoring Courage And Calling Of Nehemiah

This is a guest post from Chris Vonada. Chris is an author and geologist, and also enjoys reading, running, anything outdoors, travel, family, friends, music and life! He writes about his passions at I’m Just Thinkin’ ( You can also follow him on Twitter (

At church we've been talking about restoration and the power of unity. One of the books in the Bible that we discussed in our small group was Nehemiah. I wasn't all that familiar with this book and Nehemiah's story before this. It's one of extraordinary leadership and courage, accenting the elements of vision, unity, and commitment.

Nehemiah was a man of action. God wanted him to leave a prominent position in the Persian government to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. Nehemiah followed many exiles who had returned to Jerusalem. This assignment was a big deal to God, and Nehemiah was chosen for his organizational skills and his ability to inspire others to action. When he came to town he inspected the walls and gates and lots of folks fell in line with his directive.

One of the key elements of Nehemiah's success was in prayer for doing God's work and for His purposes. This quest wasn't about Nehemiah. It was all about restoring God's place for the future coming of Jesus. Jerusalem's walls had been broken down and the gates had been burned. After hearing this distressing news, Nehemiah fasted and prayed for several days and received God's calling, favor and blessing to proceed with the task at hand.

This idea of "calling" is key in our society today and I believe is very important in how we will be remembered in the history of Christianity. The story is as relevant today as it was at the time it was written. Recent surveys suggest that we are in the midst of a leadership crisis. Joseph Cavanaugh, the author of "The Language Of Blessing," sums it up this way:

"Western individualism is primarily focused on fulfilling wants and desires. Biblical individualism is about what we have been given for the benefit of others. It is about fulfilling our unique function, contribution and calling.

King David beautifully articulates in many of his psalms how intimate God’s love is for each of us as individuals. Centuries later, in his letters to the Corinthians and to the Romans, Paul emphasizes the great diversity of gifts and functions that exist in the body of Christ. He also points out that each individual’s contribution is indispensable and vital for the benefit of the whole body. A final reality communicated in the parable of the talents and again in the book of Revelation is that each of us will stand before the Lord and give an account of what we did with what we were so generously given—an individual experience.

Healthy self-esteem is simply proper care for ourselves—physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. A self-esteem that comes from knowing we are loved by God and created with purpose allows us to get on with loving and serving others."

Nehemiah served the King of Persia at the time of his calling. He was the cup-bearer, or the dude responsible for making sure that the wine and drink given to the King were safe to consume. How? Well, Nehemiah often tasted every provision before the King did. It was a very important and prestigious position, a great honor. However, it wasn't his calling and when God summoned Nehemiah to duty the faithful servant gracefully asked the King to be relieved of his role as the cup-bearer. It was as dramatic as the fisherman Peter dropping his net and stepping off the boat to follow Jesus.

How do we find our calling? Calling is found through a relationship with the Holy Spirit, and it begins with self-awareness(Click To Tweet). Don't spend so much time running away to realize what you could be running toward. Identify your gifts and talents, then pray to the Lord to show you the way in how to best apply them.

After inspecting the wall and gates, Nehemiah said to the people, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. Nehemiah 2:17-18
The task at hand may have seemed enormous, but with God's help and support the effort was united and accomplished. After Nehemiah identified his calling, he used his gifts and talents to organize and inspire others to help. If you read through the book of Nehemiah you will find the names of many who rallied in support of God's glorious purpose. Of course, there were pockets of dissension. There are today, and always will be. Not to worry though as we already know the end of the story...

"So the wall was completed on the 25th of Elul, in 52 days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God." Nehemiah 6:15-16

Don't want to be the leader? Lead, follow, or just step out of the way. Either way it's time to pony up and ride. It's all about courage, and identifying then following God's calling.

How do you think of calling? Have you ever felt that God was calling you to head off in a new direction?


Pam B. said...

I've prayed and prayed and have had my Christian book club friends pray and pray for me looking for God's calling in my life only to come to the realization that where I am and what I am doing is God's plan for me, at least right now. Accepting that fact and letting go of my preconceived idea of what it seems I should be doing and and where I should be heading, has brought a tremendous amount of peace to my life. If we believe God's promise that He "will guide you along the best pathway for your life" (Ps. 32:8), then we need to recognize and trust that what we are doing now, even if not defined by the world as success, may be His calling and if He wants us to head off in a new direction, He'll make it clear.

From Carols Quill said...

@ Pam - it has been a privilege to pray that for you over the years. You are right that sometimes we are where God wants us. Other times we need the courage to go where He sends us.

chris said...

Amen to that, His was is better than my way everyday!

lynnmosher said...

LOL Oh, yeah! I get sick and think I'll be in a wheelchair the rest of my life, get a little better, and God asks me to write for Him! I love Nehemiah. Thanks, Chris, for a great post!

chris said...

Thank you Carol for your hospitality! Hope to be back writing here again... and again... :-)

Terrie said...

Beautiful post Chris! I love the book of Nehemiah, been awhile since I ventured through - I me thinks I will read again... Yes it takes faith and courage to complete the tasks set before us. The beauty is when God is in it and we are totally on board (meaning no doubt, fear or unbelief) God can complete His work through us in a short time. But if we drag our heals, complain and question Him, well we could be in the desert for 40 years!

Thank you Carol for hosting Chris' wonderful message.

Peace and many Blessings

chris said...

Thank you Terrie for sharing your thoughts and checking it out!