This devotional is written by Jenny. Jenny is married to John and they moved to St Mary’s in 2000. Jenny now runs Connected Lives, an early intervention family support project. Whatever the question, learning to be connected is a big part of the answer

Nehemiah 2:11-20

Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem's Walls
11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12 I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.

13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal[a] Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.

17 Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace." 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.

They replied, "Let us start rebuilding." So they began this good work.

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. "What is this you are doing?" they asked. "Are you rebelling against the king?"

20 I answered them by saying, "The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it."


I've always had a soft spot for Nehemiah, a quiet practical hero of our faith. Nehemiah hears about the situation in Jerusalem, prays for it, responds to the God given opportunity and in this part of the story scopes out the extent of the project. Nehemiah is prepared to be part of the solution. He doesn't just sit there and lament, he gets on with it. He acts with great wisdom and foresight, he quietly snoops so he can work out what's needed. God uses Nehemiah's faith, his willingness to help and his skill in getting the job done.

Whenever I read Nehemiah I'm reminded of the parallels of how we as a congregation came to be at St Mary's. We desperately needed a building because we were threatened with eviction from our temporary home. We prayed and asked God to act. John took a God-given opportunity with the then vicar of St Mary's, the Revd. David Evans who along with his PCC responded with incredible generosity and allowed us to take over. Then began a huge building project, the like of which I never wish to be involved in again. God brought great planners and strategists to help at this point and they set to work. We had many obstacles and many times of near despair but we saw the goodness of God in providing all we needed in the nick of time. And so a building which could be used to both worship God and serve it's community was re-built to God's glory and for his purposes. Whenever I walk in the building I'm reminded of God's faithfulness.

Take a moment to reflect – What situations are you lamenting at the moment? Could it be that God is stirring you up about this in order to help us work to change it? Pray and ask him for guidance and wisdom.

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