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Nehemiah’s Mind 41: Where do You Live?


Issue 472

If you have ever visited or lived in London, England, you will know many intriguing facts about this global icon.  It is extraordinarily hard to drive.  Roads can be narrow and confusing.  Lanes disappear then reappear.  Everyone is in a hurry.  Traffic lights are starting grids and woe to you if you do not know where you are going.  Above you planes from the world’s busiest airports fly in and out and beneath you travellers use a massive network of underground trains where the escalators alone travel a distance of going round the world twice each week. Power is concentrated in London, political life is shaped there and financial institutions fuel the economy as vast trading volumes occur each day. Many Londoners suffer from mild depression simply because of the pace and challenge of life. There is resilience in the people, whether facing Second World War carpet bombing or modern day threats.  It definitely takes a particular type of person to inhabit the City and there is an element of heroism in simply surviving the day. Outside London, the perceived arrogance of Londoners is often resented by other towns and cities and the concentrations of wealth, power and influence are not always popular.  But the truth is every country needs its capital and would fall without it.  In London’s case it has at least a 2000 year history and around 1800 years as a capital with a few breaks.  I voluntarily relocated here nearly four decades ago. Every nation’s enemy knows that if they can topple the capital they can inflict a mortal wound on a country. As old as London is, Nehemiah was dealing with a city even older.  As he applied his mind to establishing, and then populating, his newly rebuilt capital city he faced a task of making sure it had the type of people who could hold it. As we reach the eleventh chapter of his journal you see his thinking.  Leaders were settled in Jerusalem.  One in ten of all of the rest were relocated there by casting a lot which Nehemiah would already have believed to be a decision from God (as Solomon had written about years earlier in Proverbs 16:33). Then follows another of Nehemiah’s lists in which he recalls names and numbers of those who would populate the capital. But we are trying to figure out what was in his mind.  What was he thinking as he worked on this settlement project? As is so often the case, an angel is found in the detail. Tucked away in the second verse is a revealing statement.  Everyone who volunteered to live in Jerusalem was commended and blessed by the rest of the population. Read various translations of the verse, and you will see there is an aspect of willing offering and servant spirit in the capital dwellers and an attitude of thankfulness and blessing from those who would live outside. Here’s a thought.  How would your country change if you started to thank God for those who voluntarily fight their way to work in your capital?  How would it be if you commended them for their willingness to live in an overpopulated stressful environment where mild depression creeps into daily life?  How would it be if you thanked them and thanked God for them as they made decisions which keep your country moving? Of course our default reaction is to criticise our leaders in Western democracies.  We despise them and mock them.  We say things about them we would not very likely say to them.  We are jealous of their wealth and power and critical of their self-centred world view. But what if we prayed, thanked, commended and blessed all those who live in our capitals? Nehemiah’s mind also saw the importance of a voluntary spirit of service in the capital dwellers.  What if the movers and shakers, commuters and traders in our capital city, saw service, sacrifice, humility and honour in their mission? So, if you live and work in your nation’s capital may I invite you to consider the privilege and honour that you have and the responsibility to provoke and exhibit an attitude of servant leadership, seeking to bring honourable benefits to all that you can? If you live outside your capital, and work elsewhere, how about adopting an attitude of prayer, commendation and blessing? On the seventh day of July not so long ago London suffered.  Londoners wept and prayed.  All capitals experience suffering.  It is at such times as those that you can glimpse compassion in the surrounding towns.  Arrogance simultaneously leaves the faces of the capital dwellers and a glimpse of the way it could be crosses our paths. Keep alert enough and you will hear the weeping of Jesus of Nazareth over our capitals and see the red stains outside the walls where divine suffering shows us the way to think – wherever you live and work. Bible Section Nehemiah 11:2 The people commended all who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.

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Series: Nehemiah's Mind
Module: 2
Season: -
Daily Guide: No

Tags: blessing, capital, gratitude, representative, suffering

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Geoff Shattock

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