NOW STRENGTHEN MY HANDS
9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9
Have you ever looked at your hands? I mean have you really ever took a very hard look at your hands? They really are able to tell a part of our stories. From the scars to the callus to the broken nails and the wrinkles, every part of our hands tell a part of the story of our lives. For example, I know that when I first started playing guitar, my fingertips would hurt all of the time and the ones that were long time players would encourage me to keep playing until your calluses form and then you will be good. I had no idea what that was until it happened. Other times I remember looking at my grandfather's hands and seeing all of the dirt in his fingernails, calluses on his hands and scars from pulling weeds and working in the garden to provide for his family. I asked him questions about why his hands looked so worn and he would always tell me it was because of the war he fought in and the hard work he did every day. You can definitely tell the work of the person once you look at the condition of their hands. Now, I want you to realize that I am not saying that there is a better hand than another. I am saying you can tell a part of their story based on the work that conditions someone's hands. For example, a person that works in hard labor, a lineman, or a mechanic's hands looks different than someone who writes, provides medical or dental hygiene. Every job is important and every job shares at some time or another the prayer that Nehemiah prayer, "Now strengthen my hands."
Once again as we are preparing for our Lenten journey, I just wanted to take these next 4 days and spend time preparing certain areas of our lives to be ready to be connected in a new way with God. As we looked yesterday at Habakkuk's prayer, we were preparing ourselves to have an open and honest conversation with God instead of our prayers being one sided. Well, the same is true for our prayer for today. Today I am asking us to begin praying for the action steps that God is preparing for us to take during our journey through Lent. I am praying that we are able to truly take time to focus on the things that may be causing us to take focus off the work God has called us to do. I am praying for our
weakest moments to be strengthened by God. We are a part of the Body of Christ and we have been called to go and be the hands and feet of God, but there are times that we have not conditioned ourselves to be ready to carry the load. We have gotten out of the shape that God needs from us to be able to be His hands and His feet. So I want to encourage us all to pray that our hands are strengthened. I am praying that we begin to focus on the real issues that stand before us and that we are once again ready to get back to work to fix the mess that we have allowed this world to truly get in by our lack of work. I am asking that we get our hands deep into the mess and realize that this mess can become a powerful message for God. But we have to be willing to strengthen our hands, feet, shoulders...literally every part of our body to get ready for the spiritual battles that are before us.
Nehemiah received a message from God that he was to go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. And before you try and make any of this political... stop... not going there. But God had called Nehemiah, who was the cup-bearer of the Persian King Artaxerxes, to go and fulfill the prophesies written by Zechariah and Daniel and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah was living a very comfortable lifestyle with every thing that he ever needed at his fingertips, and God called him to go, leave it all behind and restore the walls and bring back God's people from exile to their home. I know that all sounds like a movie, but I just need you to understand that what we are watching is a person with great wealth and stature, willing to leave it all behind and get his hands dirty for God. Nehemiah's story is truly amazing and continues to reveal that God has a bigger plan if we are willing to see it from God's perspective and not out own. For example, God had laid out all of the prior steps to get Nehemiah to his current position so that God's glory could be fulfilled. Because of his position, Nehemiah had credibility to overcome the obstacles that he would face and the backing of an empire to protect him. Nehemiah had to step back into the foundational work of God and it got tough. The people that he came to return, did not want to work. The people that he came to help, did not want to put in the effort and thought that the work was futile, and yet Nehemiah pressed on. It had nothing to do with the thoughts of the people and everything to do with fulfilling God's calling in his life. Sure, Nehemiah could have said no I am not going to do that, and God would have chosen another. BUT I just want us all to see that Nehemiah did not say no because of his intimate relationship with God. When called on, Nehemiah was ready to go. It did not mean that he wasn't fearful for what was to come, but it did show a trust that Nehemiah had to fulfill his true calling from God. He let go of the high life and got calluses for God.
The challenge for today is to ask this question, "Are we prepared to drop everything and be the hands of God?" It may take us to another room in our house, another house on our street, another community in our city or even another country in our world... but are you willing to take all that God has given you and be the hands and feet of God? I know that seems so easy for us to say, but as Nehemiah continued to face questions and adversity, he did not throw his hands in the air and say I quit and I'm going back to my day job. No, he asked for God to strengthen his hands to fulfill his calling. As we prepare for this time that will hopefully draw us closer to God, maybe the first question we should all ask is God what do you need from me? God what have you called me to do and how have you equipped me to serve? Strengthen my hands God. Open my ears and my eyes. Open the doors that have
closed and seemingly been locked that are in my path. Help me to fulfill my calling based on the resources that you have provided for me all of my life. If I can sing, strengthen my voice to be used by You. If I can heal, give me health to provide healing for others. If I can build, help use my efforts to continue to build for the Kingdom of God places for worship, places for connection, or places for ministry. If I can teach, God help my hands be used to equip others to serve. Let my position be a beacon in the night for all people that have been isolated for so long. God if I am retired, let me use my time and ability to do all that I can to help others find their calling of being an encourager that we can all make it if we lean on our faith in God. Whatever gifts you have placed in our hands, give us strength to use it to glorify you and help others to do the same. May this be our prayer today. God whatever you have already given to us, help us to use it to glorify You. And as the Church that MUST go into a lost world... LORD, STRENGTHEN OUR HANDS so that YOUR WILL BE DONE. AMEN