Devotion in Motion: A Lesson in Courage

By Scott McClymonds, local dad and owner of Busy Bees Christian Preschool

Hello Moms of Northwest Arkansas! I’m honored to share a “Devotion in Motion” with you this week, and I hope you’ll be inspired by one of my favorite biblical characters, Nehemiah. His life illustrated what it means to have “devotion in motion”, and we can all learn from his example.

Nehemiah’s willingness to act on God’s call helped transform history, and it reminds us to listen to God’s calling in our own lives. His courage definitely helped my wife Cindy and me as we struggled through some difficult times with our business.

Nehemiah lived in a time when the Jewish people were in captivity. Roughly 100 years prior to the events in Nehemiah, the city of Jerusalem had been captured by the Babylonians. The Jews who survived were taken back to Babylon as captives. In God’s great mercy and love for His people, He never abandoned them. He used a man named Nehemiah to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and turn the hearts of his people back to Him.

In chapter one of this story, Nehemiah received an alarming report about the condition of the Jews in Jerusalem. They were impoverished and in great distress, living in a burned city in ruins. Nehemiah was filled with sorrow and immediately turned to God. He realized the Jews in Jerusalem were in this mess because of their sin. So he went to God in prayer, confessing that he and the Jews had neglected God and His laws and acted corruptly. Then Nehemiah appealed to God’s great love and mercy by asking Him to be attentive to his prayer, to let him prosper, and to grant him mercy in front of the king.

In short, Nehemiah took action by asking for God’s blessing. His example teaches us two things: First, we’re dependent on God’s mercy to help us do anything. Jesus says, “Without me you can do nothing”. Second, God requires action. He works through weak and fragile people like you and me to accomplish His objectives.

Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king. His job was to bring the king his beverages and taste them to make sure they were high quality as well as non-toxic. Despite the fact that he was a captive, he’d managed to work himself up to this trusted, influential position in the king’s inner circle. Nehemiah eventually used this position to his advantage to carry out God’s call on his life.

In the second chapter of the story, the king asks Nehemiah why he looks so glum. Even though he is “dreadfully afraid” when the king approaches him, Nehemiah musters up the courage to talk about his concerns for the Jews in Jerusalem. We see God’s hand at work when He moves the king to say, “What is it that you want?”

Despite his fear, Nehemiah says a brief prayer and then tells the king exactly what he wants. He’d been thinking and praying about this for quite some time. Incredibly, the king is moved by God to give Nehemiah what he wants, and soon he’s on his way to Jerusalem.

Here’s what you and I can take away from this history lesson:

1. Have passion. Nehemiah certainly had it, and we should all have the same kind of passion for our families. The family is God’s core unit of government and ministry, and He cares deeply about it.

2. Take accurate stock of your family’s situation. Are our relationships healthy and improving? Are we growing in our love toward each other and toward God? If we take a close look, we may find things that need to change. Just as Nehemiah didn’t want God’s people to remain in bondage, we should also want our families to realize their full potential even when that involves radical change.

3. Develop a bold, clear vision for your family. Here are some questions to help you formalize that vision: What do you want your relationships to look like? What values do you want to teach your children? What types of attitudes do you want them to have toward other people? What ways do you and your family want to serve your community? What do you want your relationship with God to be like?

4. Resolve to take bold action that you know will make a dramatic difference. Nehemiah could have stayed in his safe, influential position with the king. Instead, he decided his cause was so important that it demanded his entire being, even at the risk of putting himself into danger. What do you need to resolve to do? What are you willing to risk for it?

5. Turn to God in prayer, acknowledging that He’s the source of true change. Just as Nehemiah confessed his sins to God, we may need to do the same. Often we have some responsibility for holding our families back by neglecting our relationship with God.

6. Realize we need the help and support of other people to accomplish big things. Many women have a husband with whom you can work together to make great things happen. Those without husbands need to assess who can help. Christianity takes teamwork.

7. Depend on God’s mercy and promises to help you transform your family into all it can be. Remember, He is faithful. He loves you so much that He sent His son to be a substitute for your sins. Put your trust in Him, and you won’t be disappointed.