Tuesday (yes, I’m a little off schedule with the holiday weekend) I wrote about the universal experience of feeling stuck from time to time. For a week, or a month, or maybe you feel like you’re living a “stuck” life.
I shared some things I’ve been learning and trying to apply from Nehemiah who never acted without praying, and never prayed without acting. Like peanut butter and jelly, prayer and action were inseparable in Nehemiah’s life as he got the Israelites unstuck and lead them in re-building the walls around Jerusalem.
But it turns out there was more. Instead of pb & j, it was more like a BLT. There was a third distinguishing characteristic in Nehemiah’s life – praise.
Over and over again he acknowledges dependence on God’s character – His power, His help, His care. Nehemiah doesn’t lose sight of who’s God and who’s NOT. He prays on behalf of the people “whom You redeemed by YOUR great strength and YOUR mighty hand.”
He reminds others “our God will fight for us” and says “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome…” He tells others about “the gracious hand of God” repeatedly, and acknowledges the work is done “with the help of our God.”
So…PRAY, ACT, PRAISE, REPEAT. But what if this “magic” formula doesn’t work in 52 days like it did for Nehemiah?
Sometimes I believe we stay stuck because God is at work “unsticking” other stuff in us that we’re not aware needs unsticking. Character stuff that may not be our priority, but is His. Like the stubborn leftover egg in a frying pan, He scrapes away.
What if our prayers in these seasons included, “Lord, help me not just to obsess on getting unstuck, but for as long as I’m here, show me what You want to form in me. Help me to be present to You in each moment.”
Our friend, Steve Hayner, is “stuck” in a season of scary, debilitating cancer. He is beautifully living out a life with similar character qualities to Nehemiah. The other day he wrote this:
1-2 Since then it is by faith that we are justified, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through [Christ] we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things he has for us in the future.
3-5 This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys—we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us.