My eldest son headed off to Middle School today! Hard to believe but true. 🙂
Anyway, while getting him all pepped up for the school year, I realized he was a bit understandably nervous. So, Christian writer that I am, I shared experiences from my life and the Bible, but I thought go a little further and share a quick-write with you about another man who had to face a new challenge of his own.
I hope Nehemiah’s story inspires you. If you have back-to-schoolers in your life, may it inspire them as well.
It was the scariest day of my life! At least, that’s what I thought then. Why, you ask?
Here’s what happened.
King Artaxerxes, the sole ruler of an empire that spanned more than 2 million square miles, had just asked me a question.
Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t that talking to such a powerful man was scary. I am his cupbearer after all, and he trusts me enough to ask my opinions from time to time. The problem today was the question itself. You see, he looked right at me and asked, “Nehemiah, why are you sad?”
To you, that might sound like something nice. To me … it sounded like a death sentence.
You see, as the guy that made sure the king’s wine wasn’t poisoned, and spent a lot of time in his presence, it was pretty much against the rules for me to be sad when around the king. Artaxerxes thought of himself as so important that he banished all sadness from the life of anyone around him. Everybody had to be happy in his presence.
Weird, I know, but that’s the way things were.
Well anyway, even though I knew I shouldn’t be sad around the king, I just couldn’t bring myself to smile. Not today.
Some of my relatives, who lived near the Lord’s city, Jerusalem, had come with news. Bad news. They told me the city was in ruins and the gate still broken down. I knew that I had to do something. But what could I do? I was a thousand miles away from Jerusalem. I was just a lowly servant to the king. I was no Joshua that could command the sun to stand still or a David that could kill a giant!
I was a cupbearer. A soon-to-be-executed cupbearer.
But then I remembered that yesterday I had asked God to allow me to make a difference for my people back in my home country of Israel. This was my chance! I could either let things go as they were and pretend everything was okay, or I could take the plunge.
Scared stiff, I whispered a prayer in my heart for God’s help. Then I licked my lips, straightened my shoulders … and asked for permission to go back to my home country and rebuild the city.
Yes, I thought that was the scariest day of my life. Little did I know that things would get even scarier. But I learned an important lesson that day. God can use cupbearers as well as conquerors.