Friday, May 20, 2011

Just Regular People

It's not always easy to really relate to the men and women of the Bible, so it makes sense to me why so many modern readers mythologize much of what they read (I don't mean this in the literary sense, but in the "I think this was made up but the message is good" sense.).  After all, when was the last time God spoke to you out of a burning bush?  When is the last time you saw the earth open up and swallow someone whole?  When was the last time God told you he would make you king, but then you were forced into hiding by the reigning king who now wanted you dead?  Much of the Bible is fantastic, but my life certainly isn't.  I spend most of my days wrestling with complex issues, and God has yet to say, "Okay, here's what I want you to do."

That's why I find the book of Nehemiah refreshing.  God never tells Nehemiah, "Neh, I want you to go back to Jerusalem.  I want you to rebuild the wall."  Nehemiah is just a regular guy.  He hurts for the predicament of his people who have returned to their homeland.  He gets so depressed about it that his worry is written on his face.  He struggles with doing the right thing and encouraging others to do the right thing.  Although he trusts in God, he is obviously concerned that his building project may be shut down by hostile people around him.  Nehemiah is a guy I can relate to.

I'm just a regular guy (nerdy, quirky, maybe even odd, but in a regular way).  When I see people suffering, or even hear of it, it tears me up, and like Nehemiah, I wear my emotions on my sleeves.  Like Nehemiah, I see things that need to be done, and it drives me nuts when people who should be doing them aren't.  I completely resonate with Nehemiah as, when frustrated with the people around him, he prays, "Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people."  Nehemiah's life is full of struggle, doubt, and despair, but also purpose, trust, and hope.  He's just like the rest of us, but here he is in the Bible being used by God for great things.

The Bible is our holy book, but in this sense we shouldn't define "holy" as "other."  The Bible is our history of God revealing himself in regular people's lives.  The Bible is not a comic book full of Supermans from far off planets.  It's full of Jane and John Does who find themselves victims (I'm sure they felt that way sometimes, at least.) to much bigger happenings, and in that we find hope.  If God can use a cup bearer to rebuild a wall and provide his people with security and purpose, he can use us too.

Stopping point: Nehemiah 13

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