When we speak of someone being uncommon, it means that they are out of the ordinary, rare or singular–even unconventional. Our subject, Nehemiah, fits that bill to a tee. Let’s take a look at what the Word of God says.
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. Nehemiah 1:4
The man Nehemiah was providentially and strategically placed in a time and place in history where his unique gifting could be used to their greatest advantage, and more importantly, to God’s greatest glory. He was not a prophet, nor a priest. But he also was not common…as we shall see.
But history had placed it’s mark on the life of this man. Though he was a Jew, he had not been able to settle in his homeland because he, along with his people had been displaced. Yet when told of the conditions of the city of Jerusalem (after he had asked about the people), and heard of the temple’s deplorable conditions, his heart broke. To have the response that he had for a people and place he had not known and possibly not seen, meant this: Nehemiah was an uncommon man, because he had an uncommon burden. A burden from the Lord will do several things, such as waking you up in the middle of the night, and drawing you closer to the Lord. What is the connecting thread between both of these things? We find out early on in this first person narrative penned by Nehemiah himself, just what it is. Nehemiah was a man of uncommon prayer. No less than eleven times in this book do we read that Nehemiah prayed. No matter what the situation was, Nehemiah took it to the Lord. His response to the heart rending news of the temple was prayer. Several months later, standing before the king, even before he spoke, he prayed. There would be many more occasions where prayer would be needed, and he would answer the call. Timely prayer cannot be undervalued.
As he stood before the king in chapter two, and makes his request, for what amounted to a leave of absence to attend to the Lord’s business, we find another vital quality about this man who was ministry-ready. He was a man of uncommon vision. He knew very well the terrible condition of the city wall; broken down and set afire, yet I believe he saw it raised up again. He also knew that he would be the human vessel the Lord would use to bring about this great work of rebuilding the wall. This type of God-given vision enabled him to do three things. First, it enabled him to see farther than others saw. Next, it enabled him to see before others saw, and finally this uncommon gift enabled him to see more than others saw. This brand of spiritual sight is greatly needed when stepping up and stepping out to do the work of the Lord.
This brings us to the one quality that solidifies and gives all the rest their potency. We read in 2:12 that God had put this thing in his heart to do. Nowhere does it say that in any way he tried to move away from the call; as Moses did, as Gideon did, or even as young Jeremiah did. No, Nehemiah was a man of uncommon availability. It’s as if he had been praying within himself, ‘Here am I send me; your servant hears and obeys.’ God is not so much concerned about ability as he is with availability.
As you embark to undertake the work and will of the Lord, please be reminded of the need and importance of these characteristics. Our prayer should be, ‘Lord, give me a burden, and lay someone on my heart. Lord, teach me to pray; in all things and at all times. And Lord, give me vision, that spiritual sight to see as You see. And Lord, as you do these things in my life, I make myself available to You. If You can use anything Lord, You can use me.’
Uncommon. That’s what I want to be. How about you?
That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.
(This is the first in a series of messages from the book of Nehemiah)