The king, with the queen sitting alongside him, said, "How long will your work take and when would you expect to return?" I gave him a time, and the king gave his approval to send me. (Nehemiah 2:5, MSG)
Some time ago I discussed the times that God asks us to move on and start something new.
Today we look at the times God asks us to stay put.
Think about it. Of the three post-exile history books, only Ezra returned to Jerusalem permanently. Esther was queen of the Persian empire. Nehemiah held an important position in the Persian court. When the king gave him permission to go to Jerusalem, he also asked "when are you coming back?" He received a leave of absence for in modern parlance we might call a short term mission trip.
His actual work was much like that which church groups today have taken in helping Haiti and Indonesia and the Gulf Coast get back on their feet after natural disasters. Except for Jerusalem's extraordinary position as the city where God chose to dwell, in His Temple.
Nehemiah clearly loved his homeland. He longed to help. I bet he longed to live there. But God's plan for him involved service in a faraway land.
Sometimes we want to leave a difficult situation--and God says no.
I talked earlier about God pushing us out of our comfortable spot and making us move. This is a time when God locks the door and makes us stay.
Kind of makes me think how, as a writer, I want to write longer, "trade" books. But to date, God has largely kept me locked in the Heartsong, short novel and novella length books. Don't misunderstand. I'm proud of my Heartsongs and novellas. And if I exercise a Nehemiah-like influence through Heartsong, that's where I want to be!
And of course, God gave Nehemiah his heart's desire for a specified period. We learn later in Nehemiah that he stayed there for twelve years before he was recalled by the king. (I wonder if he expected to be gone for such a long time!)
So, if you are in need of a decision--stay or go? Listen to God and keep an eye on open and closed doors. (This passage continues that wonderful verse, "I prayed to God and said to the king.") God will speak to a listening heart.