These are the memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. In late autumn of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxesƒ¢¢â€š¬¢â€ž¢ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had survived the captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem. They said to me, ƒ¢¢â€š¬…“Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been burned.ƒ¢¢â€š¬? When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. Then I said, ƒ¢¢â€š¬…“O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, laws, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses. ƒ¢¢â€š¬…“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ƒ¢¢â€š¬‹Å“If you sin, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands, even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.ƒ¢¢â€š¬¢â€ž¢ ƒ¢¢â€š¬…“We are your servants, the people you rescued by your great power and might. O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success now as I go to ask the king for a great favor. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.ƒ¢¢â€š¬? In those days I was the kingƒ¢¢â€š¬¢â€ž¢s cup-bearer. Nehemiah 1:1-10 NLT
Vision. Andy Stanley says, ƒ¢¢â€š¬…“Vision is a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be. (Visioneering, pg 18)ƒ¢¢â€š¬? Vision is dissatisfaction with the status quo and is a realization that things needs to change. In the life of Nehemiah, God births within him a vision to see the city of God rebuilt. Nehemiah understood that this was, in the eyes of those people whom he currently served, a reflection on God himself and he longed to see God exalted among all peoples.
Vision is birthed out of pain. In 1:4, Nehemiah states that ƒ¢¢â€š¬…“When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. (NLT)ƒ¢¢â€š¬? He heard that the wall and gates of Jerusalem had been destroyed and there was great trouble and disgrace for the city. The pain of that drove Nehemiah to pray, fast, and mourn.
But the vision wasnƒ¢¢â€š¬¢â€ž¢t as simple as rebuilding the wall and the gates. The vision was greater than that. The vision was to see the glory and honor of God restored among the nations and to see the people return to Jerusalem from the corners of the earth. It produced with Nehemiah a passion for action that would bring about the vision birthed by God from the pain of hearing that his homeland and his God was suffering and being disgraced. Yet what appears to be Nehemiahƒ¢¢â€š¬¢â€ž¢s vision was really Godƒ¢¢â€š¬¢â€ž¢s vision to allow Nehemiah to participate with God. The pain brought Nehemiah to his knees, and God would use that to give birth to Godƒ¢¢â€š¬¢â€ž¢s vision for Nehemiah.
Vision is birthed similarly in our lives. There is a point of pain and need that arises and it cuts our heart. It develops a passion to do, to change that which caused the pain or the need. And it looks for opportunities to express it and influence others that can help bring to fruition the vision placed within a person. And God uses that need or pain to bring us to our knees and He uses that to birth His vision in us.
It also causes us to plan.
Early the following spring, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxesƒ¢¢â€š¬¢â€ž¢ reign, I was serving the king his wine. I had never appeared sad in his presence before this time. So the king asked me, ƒ¢¢â€š¬…“Why are you so sad? You arenƒ¢¢â€š¬¢â€ž¢t sick, are you? You look like a man with deep troubles.ƒ¢¢â€š¬? Then I was badly frightened, but I replied, ƒ¢¢â€š¬…“Long live the king! Why shouldnƒ¢¢â€š¬¢â€ž¢t I be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been burned down.ƒ¢¢â€š¬? The king asked, ƒ¢¢â€š¬…“Well, how can I help you?ƒ¢¢â€š¬? With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, ƒ¢¢â€š¬…“If it please Your Majesty and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.ƒ¢¢â€š¬? The king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, ƒ¢¢â€š¬…“How long will you be gone? When will you return?ƒ¢¢â€š¬? So the king agreed, and I set a date for my departure. I also said to the king, ƒ¢¢â€š¬…“If it please Your Majesty, give me letters to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates River, instructing them to let me travel safely through their territories on my way to Judah. And please send a letter to Asaph, the manager of the kingƒ¢¢â€š¬¢â€ž¢s forest, instructing him to give me timber. I will need it to make beams for the gates of the Temple fortress, for the city walls, and for a house for myself.ƒ¢¢â€š¬? And the king granted these requests, because the gracious hand of God was on me. When I came to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates River, I delivered the kingƒ¢¢â€š¬¢â€ž¢s letters to them. The king, I should add, had sent along army officers and horsemen to protect me. Nehemiah 2:1-9 NLT
The vision of a restored city produced a passion within Nehemiah that stayed with him day after day. It stayed with him so much that he began to think about all he would need to get back to Jerusalem and be a part of the rebuilding process. He planned for a time when, if he had the opportunity to participate in the vision, he knew what it would take to get the job done. And when the opportunity arose, it was on the front of his mind, he was able to express it, and he was so ready that the King could say nothing else but ƒ¢¢â€š¬…“Go!ƒ¢¢â€š¬?. The vision birthed by God for God carried out through Nehemiah could not be restricted.
Vision isnƒ¢¢â€š¬¢â€ž¢t just an idea. It becomes a passion. It drives a person or organization to plan and prepare.