Friday, October 3

The Princess's Potholes"

Nehemiah 1:1-4

“And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire”.” Nehemiah 1:3

Hanani gives Nehemiah a melancholy account of the present state of the Jews and Jerusalem. He didn’t go to Nehemiah because he had something to talk about, he came to a friend who he knew would help; prayerfully, wisely, practically, and emotionally.

The account that Hanani gives;
1. That the holy seed was miserably trampled on and abused, in great affliction and reproach, insulted upon all occasions by their neighbors, and filled with the scorning of those that were at ease.
2. That the holy city was exposed and in ruins. The wall of Jerusalem was still broken down, and the gates were, as the Chaldeans left them, in ruins. This made the condition of the inhabitants both very despicable under the abiding marks of poverty and slavery, and very dangerous; for their enemies might, when they pleased, make an easy prey of them. The temple was built, the government settled, and a work of reformation brought to some head, but here was one good work yet undone; this was still wanting.

Life is full of surprises; if you have not figured this out already – you will!

I heard a very distressing story once – it’s a real story; a little boy went outside to play, and not realizing what the mound of soil he approached represented, found it was too late to escape - he came across a den of rattle snakes. His father found him – barely alive! He picked up his son, and as he carried him to his car, placed him inside, shifted the gear into reverse---he heard a “thump!” He had run over his youngest son.

The children’s mother and wife of the man in this true story, was elsewhere during this crisis; when she received news of the loss of her two sons, she had a massive heart attack and died. His whole world came apart---two boys and his wife - all in a day.

A world turned upside down and inside out!

We may work hard with never a sick day in our life, but life is not always a bed of roses. The older I grow, and the more responsibility I have, the greater my reality check - that life is filled with potholes! Real life does not go; bills paid, mortgage in check, fairly comfortable---it does not continue in that way endlessly.

When Nehemiah saw his brother coming, he had no idea of the news he would bear. When Hanani offloads his burden for Jerusalem, Nehemiah sat down; his knees got so weak – he sat down; wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed - Vs.4 “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,”

Have you ever “sat down?” Have the trials in your life, or perhaps the burden of your life (because of circumstances that are not always under your control) – caused you to stop and sit down for a while?

When bad comes into our lives; when baggage from our past or present sends us into a nose dive – straight for the pothole---what do we do?

AIG had a slogan; “Safest place you can have your money!” And now? -- A blow to the world!

For the most part, when we stumble through our week, or when we don’t have the victory in areas we have been trying to overcome and conquer for years; perhaps we can’t work out why we ARE in a pothole? - regardless of the probable cause of our downward spiral, we don’t get down to weep, mourn, fast, and pray. We weep, and then we panic!

How do we handle potholes?
1. Assess the situation – Vs.3 “…the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down” – when you hear bad news like this, sit down! When you spiral into depression, or as the Bible teaches us – A heaviness of spirit - don’t assess it with a solution; take inventory of the circumstances. Take time to mourn and have grief – don’t be cold. It’s alright to be sad!
2. Access the Father – Vs.4 “…and prayed before the God of heaven,” Nehemiah prayed for 4 months.

Just this week, I had a friend phone me, and in a panicked voice said, “The stock market is collapsing!" I said, “OK! It’s crashed, and there’s only up now.”

When we hit a dip, we say our speed prayers; then we proceed to take care of business without God in the picture. Communion with God will best prepare us for our dealings with men and any mess in our lives. Sometimes our dreams are shattered – in a moment--- it all falls apart in our minds, and sometimes in our life!

1. Analyze what the real root problem is – Chapter 2:17 “…Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.”
We are so use to casual Christianity; we go to the house of God, we sing the songs, we go here, we go there, and then we hit the potholes of life and respond in like manner – Casual Christianity = Chaos!

2. Attack the problem – Chapter 2:18 “Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.” Running does not deal with the problem, and blaming yourself or others does not deal with the problem.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned through MUCH hardship, loss, and grief is this; “DON’T PUT YOURSELF OR OTHERS ON TRIAL.” YOUR LIFE IS NOT PERFORMANCE BASED, AND NEITHER IS ANYONE ELSE’S.” Isn’t that profound? It has taken me almost 50 years to settle this with God.

For whatever reasons; perhaps a high-expectation placed on yourself by yourself, perhaps a fear of failure, a terror of being rejected---the psychobabble that we tell ourselves, has a zero advantage to our Christian growth, and a built-in destructive ability, and ALWAYS a negative outcome.
a. I must not pass my problems down to the next generation - under my watch, I need to ensure I don’t leave a mess! I want the breath of God to be pleased with what I’m doing. “Let us rise up and build,” not “let us rise up and run!” Nehemiah 2:17 “…come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.”
b. Complaining about our problems doesn’t deal with them. Blaming others does not deal with the problem. Don’t pick the carpet up and sweep your problems under.

3. The adversaries come – Pessimism, Criticism, friendicism---We are not going to stop negative input or unwise advice, or women who “just have to say what they have to say.”

When I owned my company in Australia, I devised a really helpful, self-therapy based - mind strategy. Are you ready? It’s very sophisticated!

When someone, who did not have my best interests at heart---who did not come under the banner of “wise counsel,” and usually came my way expectedly uninvited, or unexpectedly; and their comments (criticism), care (criticism tied with a ribbon), or personal experience (criticism tied up with a ribbon, and with a big bow on top) – I would visualize them standing over a huge dumper bin, falling face in; their words, the effect their words had on me, and their physical presence – gone - inside the dumper bin! Bye, bye problem! And it worked!

Disclaimer; I am not a heartless person! Very few ladies came across my path that had this affect on me; and I treated them very well, was attentive to their lack of wisdom, and was always kind, courteous, and served it all with cream on top. It was the affect that their unknown blow had on me, which became the object of my dumper bin moment. It’s what they call, “The Power of Auto-Suggestion” in the business world.

I pray day in and day out that God will provide my needs. I don’t know if I’m training a Baptist preacher? I hardly know what I’m doing; but I must remain faithful and steadfast. We are always training someone else in how to deal with the pathway’s of life. We may not know who it is we have an influence on. Don’t quit!

We magnify our problems; we talk about them instead of dealing with them.

There will be difficulties; there’s always a warning before a pothole comes. The road is always worn before the hole appears--- sometimes there are signs of rubble before we hit the dip.

My own potholes motivate me! Friend’s potholes motivate me! These big dark holes become a tool of stimulus for my own personal application. I pray more and I prepare myself more; for how I will respond to the next pothole in my own life, or perhaps how I can encourage a friend who is in their own pothole; for this, I am grateful for potholes – both yours and mine! I have become “Pothole Wise.”

It is lawful and good to enquire, "What news?" Nehemiah 1:2 “…and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.” We should enquire especially concerning the state of the church and religion, and how it fares with the people of God; and the design of our enquiry must be, not that, like the Athenians, we may have something to talk of, but that we may know how to direct our prayers and our praises.

And, it’s good to enquire with the cares and concerns of each other – Not to have something to talk about, but that we may know how to direct our prayers and praises.

There’s a solution for everything! I’m not suggesting that we will solve our problems by searching long and hard until we have enough tenacity to deal with it and move on; what I do emphasize is that the solution may lay in a “change of attitude,” rather than a change to any circumstances we face now or in the future.

And, sometimes we just have to tough it out! But alas, we’re not alone; Malachi 3:3 says: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining Silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: 'He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.' She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time.

The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, 'How do you know when the silver is fully refined?'He smiled at her and answered, 'Oh, that's easy -- when I see my image in it.'

Are you feeling the heat of the fire today? Remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching until He sees His reflection. Your problem may be greater than you feel you can bear, or it may be a pothole you can’t seem to overcome, and although you detect the warning signs before you fall - the hole is expected, yet the response is sometimes unexpected! Don’t ignore it, and don’t despair!

God wants us to be “Pothole Wise.” What do we do when we don’t know what to do? Sit still, let the tears flow before Him, consider fasting, and don’t give up asking the Great Physician, the Glorious Counselor, and the Supernatural Shepherd – He knows, and He has the finest wisdom available to us all.

I can’t remember where I gleaned this statement from, but I heard it many years ago - Christians fall into 3 categories;

a. The Christian at the beginning of a trial
b. The Christian in the middle of a trial
c. The Christian at the end of a trial

I Love You,

1 comment:

Nancy M. said...

Good words of wisdom. lv-nancy