Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. Psalm 25:8-9
My family is driving down Inner-state Decision, and we don’t know what exit to take. Our teenagers, ages 17 and 19, are making college and career choices. My husband may retire from his teaching job. Should we move to a less expensive area, so we can live on his pension and pay college bills? Should my 88-year-old mother continue to live with us or should she enter a professional care center? So many exits. Which is the right one?
When Nehemiah heard that Jerusalem’s wall and its city gates had been destroyed, he was greatly troubled (Nehemiah 1:3-4). He lived in Babylon, hundreds of miles from Jerusalem. Should he leave his job as the royal cupbearer to help with the crisis in Israel? Nehemiah didn’t know what to do, so he fasted and prayed as he merged onto Inner-state Decision.
His prayer in Nehemiah 1 provides a model for us when we wrestle with life-changing decisions. First he focused on God’s character: “the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of love”(v. 5). Reflecting on God’s attributes always slows my racing heart and jittery spirit.
Nehemiah then admitted that both he and his countrymen had often sinned. They’d disobeyed God and stubbornly mapped out their own routes. Nehemiah based his request for mercy and forgiveness on the promises God had given to Israel through Moses. I too have failed to follow God’s directions and used my own GPS system. I also need to ask for forgiveness and then rest confidently on God’s promises.
Finally, Nehemiah asked God to “give him success” when asked the king for permission to go to Jerusalem (1:11, 2:5). Making specific requests is vital for me, too. I need to proceed with caution in a definite direction and ask God to set up a roadblock if I take the wrong exit.
Inner-state Decision can be a winding, nerve-racking highway. But we have a sovereign, loving God who is willing and able to lead us. Unlike Mapquest, God doesn’t lay out the entire route for us. He usually reveals one mile marker at a time. His route may not be the shortest or the fastest, but it’s always the best.
Read Nehemiah 1-2. What mile marker did God provide for Nehemiah in verse 2:2? What other confirmations did God give him in this passage? What mile markers has He given you recently?
Read Psalm 119:105. The psalmist isn’t referring to a spotlight in this verse; he’s referring to a small lantern that illuminated only a few steps. What does that indicate about the importance of daily Bible study?
Read Psalm 25. Meditating on God’s attributes in our prayers is helpful because it directs our attention away from ourselves toward God’s unchanging character. What does David say about God in verses 4-10? Which of God’s attributes could you include in your prayers today?
Denise K. Loock