Thomas Edison when thinking back on all the times he tried and failed to master the concept of the incandescent light bulb famously quipped, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb!”
The Israelites instead of trying to master a light bulb were left fumbling to master Jerusalem with the foreign enemies, wall-less perimeter and wayward people. Throughout Nehemiah God reveals to us his ability to turn our failed attempts into a REMADE MISSION.
Naturally, it takes a remade person to initiate a remade mission! If we personally haven’t met the Risen Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, our effort, energy, and insights will eventually dry up like a drop of water in the most oppressive desserts heat. Yet meeting the Risen Lord, Jesus says in John 14:13-, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” When our lives start to align with God’s providence, we become part of a bigger plan and picture for humanity! For Nehemiah it was necessary for him to seek the will of God in order to ask for things that aligned with His will.
Nehemiah 2:3-4 I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven…From prayer proceeded provision to fulfill God’s plan-(v. 5) and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
While we sat in the computer lab alone, my friend began to share his story of being remade for a remade mission! He grew up a PK (Preacher’s Kid) going to every church event possible: Monday for prayer, Wednesday for midweek service, Sunday- not once, but twice. Yet by the time he reached high school and then in college he felt like being a Christian was all about “following the rules, walking the line, avoiding the rated R movies, etc.” When he got out of the structure of his dad’s house he found college to be a time of exploration, less studying and more partying, drugs and drinking. Within a year he was on the verge of flunking out but in order to avoid the black mark on his transcript instead he took a “leave of absence.” During the time away, he got a part-time job in a factory and lived in his parent’s basement. During the break, his dad invited him to a Christian camp just to get out of the house, help if he wanted to, and maybe get some more sun (being in the basement without windows apparently made him nearly translucent). At camp, he said, “God started working on my heart again.” Instead of being all about rules, it was all about relationship with Jesus Christ. Hundreds of junior high and high school kids in between swimming and kick ball made commitments or recommitments to Jesus Christ- to follow him, serve him, and be in relationship with him. No one knew it at the time, but there was also one college student who recommitted his life to God that day! As we sat in the seminary computer lab, my friend had ditched the factory for the full-time youth ministry–finding that as he was remade, his heart softened, his focused clarified on Christ that it made the mission of “seeking and saving the lost” all the clearer.
Where is God leading you? Charles Finney in his book Principles of Prayer makes it clear that if you are struggling to see the will of the Holy Spirit in your life first seek to recommit to Jesus Christ—“confess and forsake sin” and then as you have been remade or “born again” you can seek with renewed clarity the will of God and the remade mission in your life.
Martin Luther King Jr. once rightly said, “I may not yet be the man I should be or the man, with Christ’s help I will some day be, but thank God I’m not the man I used to be!” Amen to that!