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Nehemiah’s brokenness over the news of Jerusalem’s devastation led him to mourn and fast for “some days.” According to Scripture 4 months passed before Nehemiah asked the king for a leave of absence, travel documents and supplies. What took so long? Rather than attempting to jump into action without a plan, Nehemiah started praying, planning and waiting for God’s time. This was not a call taken lightly or without thought. When the day finally arrived and the king asked Nehemiah what was on his mind, Nehemiah was fearful but totally ready to present his requests. He had considered how long the reconstruction would take and asked for a leave of 5 years. He knew that safe travel to Jerusalem depended on the king’s travel authorization, and he had calculated the supplies that would be needed for this extensive project. After arrival in Jerusalem, Nehemiah waited to lay out his plan. He assessed the situation, the damage, the people. He then presented his plan for rebuilding the walls when he was fully prepared to start. He recognized opposition would come, but God’s guidance gave him strength and confidence.

Neh 1:4, 2:4-5, 8, 12, 17-18; 1 Cor 14:33, 40

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (Neh 1:4) The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven 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 of Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” (Neh 2:4-5) And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. (Neh 2:8)

We have all seen zeal behind the wheel without a roadmap. Maybe we have been that zealous person at one time or another. It’s easy to be inspired and announce your big news. “I’m going back to school!” “I’m going to lose 50 lbs.” I’m going to get out of debt.” “I’m going to _____.” Without any real thought, prayer, planning or preparation, we announce the launch…but, in fact, never get off the dock. When God gives us a mission, a call of duty, we are to live by faith, yes, but he gave us intellect. God is a God of order, planning and preparation. If God has placed a call of duty on your heart, follow the example of Nehemiah. Don’t head out unarmed and destined to fail. There’s a saying that the “the devil is in the details”… not true. The God who put the stars in place and holds our universe in perfect balance has a handle on the details. Seek Him in the preparation and he will guide you in His plan for success.

Can you think of a time that you launched into some project without proper preparation? What was the result? Do you know anyone who is always making grandiose announcements about their “plan” but it always fizzles out? When have you launched out with prayer, preparation and planning? What was the result? Have you ever felt a call and had no idea how to launch? What should we do in those times when we feel incapable of carrying out a call from God?

Seek God for his plan. If you have a call, pray, plan, prepare. If you do not have a call, ask God what he wants you to do with the gifts, talents and resources he has given you.

Dear God, make clear to me my call of duty. I want to be used by you. Lead me in obedience to answer your call. In Jesus Name, I pray Amen.