Can you think of anything in the world that you think should change?
I’m guessing your answer to that question is relatively easy. We all desire change in some way. No one is perfectly satisfied with their world, and those who are most passionate are usually most opinionated. You and I both have visions of a better future. This vision may concern your family, your job, your city, the government, your church, your health, or all of the above.
Here is a second question that may be a little harder to answer: What if the King of Persia offered to make your vision a reality? Would you be ready?
I’ve been studying the Old Testament character Nehemiah lately. He was a man with a vision. It was actually a relatively simple vision. He found out that the people of his hometown were suffering and it broke his heart. He prayed to God for those people, confessed his sin to God, and asked God to work on their behalf. He was burdened emotionally and spiritually for a number of months, until one day he was faced with an opportunity.
Nehemiah worked for the King of Persia. He made sure that he didn’t take his personal issues into work with him, because in his profession you could easily get your head chopped off if the boss wasn’t happy. But one day his boss noticed that something was wrong, and he asked Nehemiah about the issues he was facing. Nehemiah was given the chance to share exactly what was on his mind. And he did. He detailed for the king all the problems his hometown was facing and the burden that he felt for them. Nehemiah vented a little bit. He got the chance to unload everything that had been burning inside him, and to answer the question “What do you think should change in this world?”
There was no guarantee about what would happen next, but Nehemiah 2:4 tells us:
Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?”
How about that question? “What do you want me to do about it, Nehemiah?” Now understand for a minute, this wasn’t Nehemiah’s work buddy or Nehemiah’s cousin asking this–this was the King of Persia. He had the resources and the power to make this vision a reality. How did Nehemiah respond?
“So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king…”
Nehemiah started by praying. This wasn’t the first prayer he prayed about this situation, it was something he had been praying about for months. I’m sure that during his prayers leading up to this moment Nehemiah had been praying for this moment to take place. I’m sure he also gained clarity, wisdom, and trust in God during the prayers he was praying leading up to this moment. This prayer was probably as simple as “Thank you God, now please help me to be bold and to speak with clarity.”
And speak with clarity he did.
When faced with the opportunity to provide solutions to the problems that were burdening him, Nehemiah wasn’t scratching his head. He asked the king to send him to Judah, to be given resources for the trip, to be granted letters to give to the leaders of the region asking for materials for building, and to be allowed to go himself and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah was ready when faced with the opportune moment, not to complain about how everyone else should change, but to boldly ask that he be utilized as a change-agent in the area he was burdened.
There are a lot of talking heads out there in our culture today. It’s not that hard to find an opinion about everything imaginable. A lot of people are saying a lot of things about what could and should be different. But those who are really making a difference aren’t simply talking. They are praying, preparing, planning, and serving as agents of change in their world.
If the King of Persia showed up at your door today, would you be ready?