Friday, November 05, 2010

Nehemiah, Heavy Hearts, and How and When to Speak

My heart has been heavy for some time--and I mean a pretty long time--about an ongoing conflict in our church. It's one of those exhausting issues that happens in so many church bodies, and sometimes there seems no solution. It's not some huge sin; in fact the issue itself has more to do with conflicts of interest. But as sinful human beings, even though saved, we stumble and fumble, trying to solve the conflict, and our body suffers....

So last week my brain was buzzing and I was jotting all sorts of notes down for a blog post. I've felt more and more strongly that I need to put my thoughts down in words and let them go where they may. Many others have spoken and written on the topic without effect, and I have no idea if my words will change anything, but I feel strongly that I have been silent too long. I haven't been totally silent; my family and close friends know how I feel, but I haven't spoken up publicly. There's always that faint hope that perhaps my words will be understood; that I can put the thoughts into words and clarify what everyone is struggling with. How's that for arrogant?

And there's the sticking point. What does God think about me speaking up? Is it something He wants me to do? What is my motivation? Am I being arrogant, thinking my words will break through where none others have; or is my desire simply a prayer that my words will help bring the healing that is so needed?

Before I typed up my post, I took a break to get into my Bible study lesson. I figured I'd better not go any farther with it before delving a bit into God. And, as is so often the case, the first points I got into hit square between the eyes and I've been working through them all week.

We just started the Precept's Ministries study of Nehemiah, by Kay Arthur. I love Nehemiah, particularly in the first chapter when he hears of the sorry state of Jerusalem--its walls are broken down and its city gates are burned (still, after almost 150 years). His heart grieves, and he immediately goes before the Lord, seeking wisdom, confessing sin, glorifying God. It's powerful stuff.

We were to read through all that and then list anything we learned about Nehemiah. Then came the next question which had to do with asking God if there was anything you could learn about Nehemiah to apply to your own life.
"For instance, Nehemiah was grieved because of the distress of his people..... Is there distress in your family, community, church, nation? Reproach? Anything 'broken' in your life, family, community?...."
 Yikes! I had to write my issue down, right there. The next few parts of the question took me through "Have you ever wondered how to handle it?" and in answering that, I had to look at how Nehemiah handled his situation: He brought his grief to God, he glorified God, he admitted his part in the sin, he remembered God's promises, and finally presented his request. So I did that, and I think my mind is slightly clearer.

When we met for Bible study last Tuesday, we had discussion for the first hour, and then there was a video with Kay Arthur who took us through a lot of the points from the lesson. It was good, hard stuff, and I was literally vibrating by the end of it because she was pulling so much straight from Scripture that resonated with what I've been feeling, and answering questions about how I should be dealing with it. Nehemiah was an ordinary person like any of us, and yet God was able to use him in extraordinary ways because he let God use him. He turned to God, and sought God's help in his struggle and grief.

Kay wrapped up the session with this:
When you look at a situation and it grieves you--you can know God has something He wants you to consider.

  1. Be aware. Have knowledge of the condition of the situation. 
  2. Have a heart touched by the situation. Ministries come from mourning, born out of trials and pain.
  3. There needs to be confession of the transgressions that brought about this situation. (Neh. 1:6-7) (Align self with the sin and take responsibility.)
  4. Believe that God will ever remain God. He is a covenant-keeping God. (Neh. 1:7-9)
  5. There needs to be an assessment of the situation on your knees.  (That was a wake-up one for me.)
  6. Know how to handle fear. (Neh. 2:2-4) (Interesting that that was mentioned, because fear is what usually keeps me silent.)
  7. Assess and know when to share God's call with others. You can't do it by yourself. (Neh. 2:14-18) (This was another good one for me--I realized that I want to speak up so that we can work together.)
  8. Be discerning. Understand the wiles of others. (Neh. 2:19-20) (If there's one thing Satan wants, it's to make the Body ineffective.)
  9. Know that only God can give success. (Neh. 1:11, 2:20) (Here, again, is the key factor. We keep trying and trying to solve this issue, but I think we have yet to turn completely to God and let Him do the work and bring the solution....)
 I'm sure this doesn't come across as a fascinating blog post. It isn't meant to be, though I pray that it will help you where you're at as much as it's been a help for me. I'm not totally ready to post my other blog note yet.... I need to type it out, get it organized, and pray some more before I post. Sigh! I wish I had all the answers, but I don't. As the saying goes, though, "I may not, but God does."