Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Dream Man for the Ages


Lately, there’s been a man on my mind. I seem to be running into him everywhere I turn. I'm encountering him even in places I wouldn’t expect to meet him. 

The more I get to know him, the more I’m discovering that he has everything on my list that I could ever want in a man. 

{If I had a list, after all these years. Which I don’t  . . . or do I?}

He’s got a great job, travels, and is quite handy. The only problem is that he lived about a couple thousand years ago.

His name is Nehemiah.

You might know him too. He's famous for rebuilding a wall in Jerusalem and he has a book of the Bible named after him. But his words seem timeless as I read them now.



I don’t know about you but when something {or someone} keeps grabbing my attention over a very short time, I begin to think God wants me to take notice.

I was on my way to another part of the Bible a few weeks ago, when I stopped at Nehemiah. I was intrigued when just as we're introduced to him, he isn't afraid to tell us that he cried over the plight of his fellow countrymen.

I thought his story, told in the first-person, sounded a lot like a blog post.

He tells us he’s afraid. He tells us he shoots a quick prayer heavenward before making a big request to his boss, the king. He tells us God planted a dream in his heart. And he’s not exactly sure how it’s all going to work out, but he has faith that it will.

I was starting to fall in love with Nehemiah. 



I mentioned him in a blog post a few weeks ago {you can read it here} because his perseverance inspired me.

A few days later I attended an all-day videoconference on leadership with my work colleagues. None of the content related to the Bible except that the opening speaker was Andy Stanley, a pastor. He said he was going to use just one illustration from the Bible.

It was Nehemiah.

I was on the edge of my seat to learn more about my dream-man. 

He was so focused on his God-purposed work of rebuilding the wall that he refused to be distracted by his critics, saying he could not come down to meet with them and continued the work of his dream. 

{How had I missed that?}



A week later a friend said he’d read my blog post and was an admirer of my man Nehemiah, too. He told me it took amazing teamwork for the men to rebuild the wall so quickly that they worked only on the section just in front of them.

And just days later I received a blog post in my email in-box, looking at yet another angle of Nehemiah.  

This one asked us to consider the kind of work God was having us do during this season of our lives.

It was then that I stopped wondering what God wanted me to notice about Nehemiah and started pondering what distinguished his life.



More than anything else in his life, Nehemiah wants to know God. This is his purpose as he pursues his work, his relationships and his faith.

Nehemiah’s life could be any of ours, couldn’t it? 

God plants a dream in our hearts (Neh. 2:12). We wait, trust, pray, take some risks and do the work. 

There are critics and discouragers. We feel uncertain and things get harder than we ever thought they would.

But just like Nehemiah, we don't give up.



Lately these fearful thoughts have been swirling around me. {Maybe you've heard them too?}

What if that dream you think God whispered never happens? Did God even really say that? What if those ideas you have just aren't possible? What if your faith holding everything up collapses and you're left with a pile of rubble?

I wonder how I can keep the thoughts of these worst-case scenarios and first-rate disappointments from haunting me.

But Nehemiah knew the secret. 

He loved God more than his fears. He reminded his countrymen to look back at their history to see how far God brought them so they'd be encouraged to take future leaps of faith. 

It's not easy. Facing our fears is a giant step of faith. But it can be what moves us into places we'd never imagine, stronger and ready to thrive.



Do you feel like you could never be the brave woman you'd like to be, facing your fears, confident that God has good plans for you? Do you wonder if you can even get through the day, let alone look to the future with joy?

Consider Nehemiah. His timeless story is as inspiring for us today as it was for those who lived it with him so long ago.

After encountering him so often over the past few weeks, I’ve developed a deep affection for him. 

But what I love most about him is that his life points the way to God. 

And that’s at the top of my list for any dream man who might be headed in my direction. 

{If I had a list, that is. Which I don’t . . . or do I?}




I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Join me there!





22 comments:

  1. That. Tag. Is. PERFECT.

    Your words are equal parts inspiring and entertaining. I cannot wait to hear more about your man Nehemiah!

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    1. Brittany,
      Isn't that tag the best? I will bequeath it to you! :) You are too kind about my words this week -- but I am ever grateful for your encouragement! xo

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  2. Nehemiah and your chippy pink dresser get me every time... ♥♥♥ And I'm more than confident that you have a list!! haha!! We all do! As long as we make Jesus our focus, all other things will fall into place, I'm sure of it! ♥

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    1. Heather,
      Nehemiah and my chippy dresser? I hadn't thought of it that way -- but I rather like the idea! I wonder if he would approve? After all he's good at repairing things and that dresser needs A LOT of work! :)

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  3. Hi Valerie! I think I'd better get busy reading Nehemiah! You certainly had a lot of 'divine appointments' that led you to your new dream man. (So cute!)
    I totally relate to the push and pull of 'is it me? or is it God?' and I'm always impressed by the men and women of the Bible who didn't have time for that stuff. They just KNEW. May I be open to the work and words of God, so clear...so I'll just KNOW too.
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. Hi Ceil,
      Thank you so much for these kind words today! I appreciate how you feel the same way about wondering if we hear God whispering to us or is just us? I love how you point out that those in the Bible just knew and that we can get close enough to God to know too! Thanks for sharing your words -- I'm so grateful, friend!

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  4. God has a Nehemiah out there for you. He will find you at just the right time and you will look back and see how you weren't ready until then!
    Oh oh, maybe you will meet on your big trip! :)

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    1. Sarah,
      It makes me chuckle -- looking for Nehemiah? Yes, there must be a Nehemiah in Italy, right??! :)

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  5. Nehemiah as dream man, huh? I'd like to think he's looking down and smiling, knowing that you understand what makes him so appealing.

    And this here, Valerie - 'He loved God more than his fears.' Wow. This I take with me as I head off this evening ...

    Hugs to you, friend! Thank you for sharing the depths of your faith with me, with us ...

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    1. Linda,
      I LOVE the thought of Nehemiah being amused at my little blog post -- oh that cheers my heart tonight! Always love your encouragement here Linda! Thank you so much for sharing this journey!

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  6. Hi Valerie-
    This is really good- and speaks again to my heart as fear has been a huge issue in my life- and I do feel I could never be the brave woman I hope to be! ( how did you know? :) I will have to go and read more about him- I want very much to have my life be one that points to God and to love him more than my fears. Thank you for your wonderful thoughts tonight Valerie- so very good- :) blessings and hugs!

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    1. Susie,
      I am so glad we both aspire to be brave women but know we need God's help when we falter on this ambitious journey to face our fears! I think that's how we might be designed to stay close to his heart so we can be brave through him and his strength. I always appreciate your encouraging words that speak to my heart!

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  7. Valerie - your words are such inspiration to my soul!! Now I can't wait to dig into the book of Nehemiah! When I read your posts, I will often read it two or three times just to let every word sink in. Fear is something I have struggled with, and I am learning that facing my fears is essential in this journey of life. I loved this: "It's not easy. Facing our fears is a giant step of faith. But it can be what moves us into places we'd never imagine, stronger and ready to thrive." Thank you for allowing us into your vulnerable places and giving us your unique and beautiful perspective. As women, we have so much in common, and are on this journey together!! I hope to see you soon, sweet friend. -Shawna

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    1. Shawna,
      Oh I am so grateful for your sweet words of encouragement! They mean so much to me this week! Things that give me pause when I consider doing or going sound so much better from a long way off than they do when they're closer and then the fears kick in! I am so glad you are a fellow kindred on this journey with me, friend! :)

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  8. There is so much to consider in your writing today, so much that rings true in my own life. I don't recall learning about Nehemiah when studying the Bible as a child and young adult, but love the metaphor. I always think life calls out to me, has a bigger plan in place and I just need to get "out of the way" and let it happen.. which is entirely very very frightening for me. I don't deal well with change, but I know in my heart and in my intuition when something is the right choice. xx

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    1. Barb,
      Nehemiah was a hidden treasure to me too which is why I was so delighted to meet him {so often and up close and personal}! I love hearing about your thoughts on life (with your deep poet's soul) and change is very hard for me too. I sometimes don't heed the call to step out and get into life, but when I do, there's always growth for me. Thanks so much for being so kind to comment here! xo

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  9. Oh, I love this! I also love how God will circle us around one theme until we understand what He wants us to learn. Nehemiah...Any man that has a heart for God and longs to do His will is in fact a dream man!

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    1. Alecia,
      I just love how God gets our attention too -- circles us with a theme -- LOVE that word picture! Yes, I couldn't agree more with your description of a dream man! xoxo

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  10. I really love this, Valerie. First, my heart thrilled for you as I thought God sent you a dream man from the present until I read it was Nehemiah. You have such an engaging way of writing. :) It does my heart good to be reminded of Nehemiah and his steadfast faith and perseverance in and for God despite all the critics around him. Thank you for this encouragement today! Hugs!

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    1. Trudy,
      Didn't mean to tease you with my little blog title and I am touched that you would rejoice with me should such a miracle ever occur! :) But I do just adore Nehemiah and the legacy his story leaves to us . . . thank you for dreaming with me for a modern-day Nehemiah! xoxo

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  11. Valerie, I completely needed this. I just published my first book yesterday, and all I could think about was my fears and wondering if this will even work out. I wondered if this is truly what God wants me to do. And then I read this. I being to cry. You certainly have to trust God over your fears. You have to believe and put in the work. I feel so blessed right now and I thank God for sending me to your blog today. I really needed this, more than you know. Thank You.

    Kia / The House of KTS
    www.houseofkts.com

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    1. Kay,
      I saw your post yesterday but didn't get a chance to comment yet -- your ebook is going to be great! Oh yes, we have trust God more than our fears, but it's not easy, is it? I'm so glad you were encouraged here and I'm always grateful for your kind words, friend! :)

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