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by Margaret D. Mitchell
Week of February 9, 2014
"Next to him was Baruch son of Zabbai, who zealously repaired an additional section from the angle to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest." -Nehemiah 3:20
Have you ever gotten fed up with the desecration you see in the world around you? What did you do to help facilitate intelligent change? Did you feel like you didn’t have time to make a difference? Did you feel powerless, like no one in leadership would listen to your ideas for solutions? Or did you follow through by taking the issue before The Lord and putting faith into action?
Divine burdens are invitations for restoration from the heart of God.
I recently felt disappointed in my local government’s ability to efficiently remove snow from my Atlanta-area roads. What should’ve taken hours, took days at the expense of multitudes. A similar situation had occurred two earlier, and I didn’t want this to happen again. This thriving metro area that could have been prepared rock solid instead received 20 tons of rock salt from a charity organization, CBN’s Operation Blessing on the back end.
I personally believe this exposition of immobilization was a reflection of a comfortable church culture that has grown apathetic in civic matters and that God was shinning His light on what has become a stronghold.
A pastor friend of mine likened the situation to New Orlean’s Katrina evacuation debacle, where usable equipment sat immobilized—a kind of “make due” mindset that actually cost lives with little visible concern from local government officials.
As saints, we are to be first in line as leaders and co-laborers of excellence on a mission outside our churches.
So what happened?
As God revealed through the news media, Georgia’s $2 million worth of relatively new snow removal equipment sat unmoved for too long. This delayed mobilization created an unnecessary crisis that adversely affected a large metro area, including rush-hour commuters stranded on interstates overnight, approximately 1,500 children stranded on school buses and schools into the freezing night and nursing mothers alone with babies in vehicles for extended hours. Many were forced to abandon their cars on interstates and find whatever shelter they could on foot, amid freezing temperatures. One girl was mamed when a sliding vehicle hit her on an ice-packed road that the government did not close for two days. And all of it was preventable.
Lack of Planning
When questioned by the news media, top government officials did not provide a sufficient explanation. What listeners initially heard was a lack of accountability, blame and how they were super heros for attempting to clean up their exponential mess on the back end. This debauched clean-up was like that of a developing country with little infrastructure, not becoming of a major U.S. city, especially one that is occupied by a majority of Christians. Two days later, my governor publically accepted responsibility and announced that a task force would be formed, a perfect opportunity for Christians to get involved and let their voices be heard.
Government officials led their people into danger, distress and global humiliation—all works of the enemy—in this stronghold of immobilization. Still, God was not defeated. And this exposition of defilement was, for me, a divine invitation to step up. I am putting my voice before the right officials and watching for launch, follow through and the establishment of a new order of procedure. I have written government officials and have offered solutions and my involvement.
Righteous anger defeated enough apathy in me that day to move into action. As one of God’s people, I knew that the stronghold of status quo has never been an option for me. And this was an open door of opportunity.
Government officials need input from their constituency ongoing. They are in office to serve God and their public. I personally felt a burden to speak up. And I knew that if I didn’t, not only would I be disobedient, according to God, I would also be lukewarm, and the enemy would send someone else’s voice to be heard, as there are no voids in the spirit realm.
Role of Action
I understand that God never blesses foolishness, as He reveals in The Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-30). I understand that clarity for a divinely-purposed mission requires God’s input and favor, as he reveals in the Book of Nehemiah. I understand that we are all called to be in the world to make disciples of all nations, a commandment from God (Matt 28:19) and that some of today’s public leaders do not bear witness in public arenas to having been discipled, even though they attend church. I understand that marketplace missions begin with personal prayer followed by actions of faith, that intercession alone is not enough. Someone has to do the practical work at hand with God’s leading and grace.
Prayer for Assignment
One of my favorite prayers is a cleansing one to lay down the cares of my world that would try to clutter my divine assignments: “Lord, rid my life of everything that does not please You. Cut away everything and everyone that is not from You for me in this season. I lay down the cares of my life that clutter Your will for me. What would You have me do for You in this season? What is on Your heart? Enable me to hear and know. I seek Your face, Your instructions. Help me to receive Your wisdom, Your strategies. Show me what to do. Open Your doors for me. Send me Your finest people. All by Your grace…”
God faithfully answers this prayer! He leads my path to carry out His assignments. He causes me to reach up for Him along the way. He takes me into the unknown (to me) and opens doors supernaturally. He shows up with His gracious power and presence to help me accomplish His will on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10).
The Power of Voice
Government contacts can easily be found on the internet. Submitting an email outlining your concerns or even picking up a phone only takes a few minutes. In my case, within an hour after contacting DOT, the Georgia National Guard and county police arrived behind my house to clean the 11-vehicle pileup and to spread gravel for traction on the main road just outside my neighborhood. Their efforts lasted into the night.
God equips us to be powerful. His word is truth. And when we act upon His word and His promptings, restoration begins. We just need to take simple steps of faith in action and obey God’s lead along the way. This is the greatest adventure.
Nehemiah’s Strong Leadership
Deuteronomy 28:13 tells us we will be the head, not the tail when we carefully obey God’s commands. God’s world is in need of godly leaders who will get the job done on His behalf and for His people. Nehemiah is such a fine example…
In the Book of Nehemiah, we see Nehemiah as a cup-bearer of the king sent to lead a major restoration of his beloved Jerusalem. God burdened his heart and appointed him to do so. His mission required the heart and favor of God; the authority of a king to appoint him in position as a governor; protection and supplies; an enthusiastic labor force and divine wisdom to see it through. God’s grace showed up all along the way to facilitate and co-labor with Nehemiah and his crew. As Nehemiah moved into position, he received all the resources he needed for the task before him. Although Nehemiah was met with resistance at times, he remained steadfast, completing his assignment God’s way—with excellence, ultimately defying his enemies.
2 Chronicles 15:7 tells us to "...be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded."
Co-labor & Completion
God’s assignments require follow-through—people to take courage (Mk 6:50, Acts 23:11) that Jesus already gave us and to act to completion. Praying for God alone to fix everything shortchanges God’s desire to co-labor with us. Since God desires relationship with us, everything we do should be a gracious, powerful co-labor with Him. It is a joy and an honor to build and restore alongside Almighty God, whose hand of favor is upon us to protect the whole way. This is how we build trust in God. Restoration happens when our works of faith meet His faithfulness.
I know our governor is a Christian, and I believe he is earnestly trying to do the right thing and see that this crisis never happens again under his authority. He has promised to work towards restoration.
What moves your heart enough to accept God’s invitation to restore alongside Him? What project is God burdening you to spearhead, to co-labor, to complete—outside of your church?
God desires we be prepared. He is looking for line leaders.
Making a restorative impact begins with submission to and hearing from The Lord.
God will meet you as you journey with Him, just like He did with Nehemiah and with Abraham and Moses and Joshua and David and Paul and so many other Bible characters.
If you don’t know what to do, simply go before Him and ask Him what’s on His heart. What would He have you do for Him? He will give you an assignment with a directive. Once you step out on faith to act, He will give you another directive and so on. And He will bless and encourage your willing heart and practical efforts and put tools in your hands and people in your path to help you, just like He did with Nehemiah.
His door of invitation is open. Will you join Him? Will you mobilize alongside Him to complete the restoration of His heart’s desire?