His name was Nehemiah, and he was King Artaxerxes’ cupbearer, daily checking the king’s wine for poison. Nehemiah is lauded as the hero for organizing and overseeing the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. But I would like to suggest that there is another hero in this story -- King Artaxerxes. If you were the king, do you think you would notice the man who brought your wine to you each day?
On the day of one of King Artaxerxes’ renowned parties, Nehemiah heard the sad news. It was delivered by his brother, Hanani, who had come to visit. “What’s happening in Jerusalem?” Nehemiah asked.
“It’s appalling,” admitted Nanani. “The walls are rubble, the gates cinder, and our people --they are disgraced, and the armies around Jerusalem plundered and destroyed the crops.” The news hit Nehemiah hard.
In spite of his grieving heart, he performed his duty. Nehemiah tasted the wine, brought it to the king, then picked up the golden goblet, filled it with the rich wine and, with a deep bow, offered it to the king. King Artaxerxes immediately noticed Nehemiah's sad face.
“Nehemiah, what’s bothering you?” the King asked. “What is making you sad?”
Nehemiah’s words tumbled out, exposing the anguish in his heart. “How could I not be sad when the city where my father and mother are buried lies in ruins and the gates to the city have been burned?”
King Artaxerxes not only listened to Nehemiah’s outburst, he acted on his sympathy -- even to the point of inconveniencing himself. He offered Nehemiah a leave of absence. “What else do you need?”
“I need a passport so I can travel to Jerusalem.”
“I need your forest keeper to provide Aspen wood for rebuilding the temple.”
And then the king went beyond what was asked or expected. “The road you travel is long and perilous. I will send some army officers and give you a cavalry escort to keep you safe.”
And this promise was done.
I, too, am a servant of the King. Every day I write for Him. Every day I offer up my words for His approval, each one crafted to please my King.
There are days the King notices my sad expression and asks, “What is making you sad?”
My words tumble out, exposing the anguish in my heart. “How could I not be sad?” I say. “Those close to me have been plundered and destroyed by the enemy.”
With gentle words and caring eyes, my King asks, “What can I do to help?”
“I need your blessing upon my ministry.”
“I need your love to rebuild the broken gates of their hearts.”
And then the King – my King of Kings -- goes beyond my requests. “The road to rebuilding lives is long and discouraging,” He says. “The path you walk will be narrow and difficult. I will send the Holy Spirit with you to keep you safe from the enemies of despair. I will pour grace, joy, and truth into you as needed.
But the King isn't done yet. Every day He's walking with me, pouring new mercies into my life. As I give, He gives.
And I’m not done yet because people still need the Lord. They need someone to acknowledge their private pain. They still need the offer of grace -- grace from the King and grace from us.They need unconditional acceptance and authentic love.
I won’t be done until I hear the “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” Until then, I’m traveling this road, scattered with needy people, my arms wide open and my heart filled with the guidance and presence of the Holy Spirit.
I’m just not done.