Not on my Watch!
Many of you will remember Eddie Chiles, founder of the Western Company of North America and former owner of the Texas Rangers whose 1970’s radio commentaries advocating for a smaller and less intrusive federal government produced a viral demand for bumper stickers that read "I'm mad too, Eddie!" After reading a recent letter from Dr. Dobson that referred to an article in the Wall Street Journal by Peggy Noonan on the state of America’s character—or lack thereof—I was tempted to get a bumper sticker that says, “I’m Mad Too, Peggy!”.
Highlighting a series of events and stories in the last few weeks that pull into question the “American character—who we are what kind of adults we are raising”, Noonan stops short of providing any real assessment of what is going on. Instead she says, “The leveling or deterioration of public behavior has got to be worrying people who have enough years on them to judge with some perspective. Something seems to be going terribly wrong. Maybe we have to stop and think about this.” (To read the complete article, click here)
While we cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand and excuse inaction on our part by pretending all of this is normal, neither can we afford to obsess about all that’s wrong without being part of the solution. Noonan is correct in saying that those of us who have enough years of living life ought to be able to “judge with some perspective.” But judging without knowing what to do to correct the source of the problem is a futile process.
Nehemiah provides a pattern we would do well to implement ourselves. When faced with a seemingly hopeless situation, here’s what Nehemiah did. First, he WEPT. So overcome by the news of the condition of his homeland, Nehemiah could not help but weep. When was the last time any of us wept—truly wept—over the condition of our society that our grandchildren must now navigate? It’s easy for me to get mad like Eddie Chiles, but God is looking for broken hearts.
Secondly, Nehemiah PRAYED. What’s really intriguing about Nehemiah’s prayer is how he prayed. This was not a template prayer or a selfish prayer. Nehemiah prayed from a broken heart and turned to the only source of healing and hope he knew—the Lord, God of heaven. Notice how he prayed. He worshipped and bowed before the God of heaven who keeps his covenants. He acknowledged his and his people’s responsibility to love Him and obey. He repented of the sins of himself and his people. He pleaded for mercy according to the grace and promises of God, and he then asked for God’s favor to grant him success in the next step. James reminds us that the fervent prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective. Nehemiah was such a man.
Thirdly, Nehemiah took action. He didn’t sit around and hope someone else would address the messy problem in Jerusalem. There had already been previous groups of exiles who had gone with good intentions, but good intentions do not bring success. Faithful action bathed in prayer and a passion for showing the greatness of God are the keys to results.
There is so much more we could discuss about Nehemiah and the amazing things God did through him. Now is the time for each of us to make a choice. Are our hearts broken enough by the condition of the world around us that we are compelled to fall on our faces before God, repent of our sins and ask for God’s favor to rebuild the walls of truth and righteousness out of the rubble? Nothing will change if all we have are good intentions. But intentionality coupled with God’s divine power expressed through faithful obedience will accomplish much. Don’t get mad…unless it drives you to weep and take action to make God look great.
So tell me what you think? Can we make a difference in our world today starting with your own family? Do you know anyone putting the Nehemiah pattern into practice? What are the results?
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