Read:

  • Nehemiah 2:1-6:14

“And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time.” –Nehemiah 2:5-6, ESV

I can be a bit…particular…but only about particular things. I tend to embed my particular-ness within a greater realm of flexibility. Ask me where I would like to go out to dinner, and you might get a response like, “something that requires a fork” or “someplace where I can order something cold.”  There remains a huge, sometimes annoying to others, amount of flexibility in my what-do-you-want-to-do moods. I don’t like capers, feta, kalamata olives, or warm fruit; but I can still find something to eat at a Greek restaurant. I don’t like fruit with my chocolate, though I love both…just separately. I don’t like floaties in my orange juice or raisins in my baked goods; in my mind, raisins are the orange juice floaties of breakfast pastry.

As any tendency, this particularness does not stay within food alone. If you walked into my home, you probably wouldn’t necessarily notice that there is not a single thing mounted on the wall above anywhere where I would sit or lay. No pictures above the head of the bed, no shelves above the desk chair, no picture on the wall above the recliners in the living room. I don’t like the idea of something falling on my head, so I decorate around it. I group things in such a way that the walls still look decorated without you actually noticing that nothing is exactly above one of those places. I have an elaborate lamp by my bed which draws the eye to the side table as the focal point of the room so you don’t see there’s nothing on the wall for the entire expanse of my bed. I build this picture of being so particular for one reason: to highlight the absurdity of the next statement.

Somewhere along the way in faith, I believed the lie that Jesus doesn’t want us making any plans at all about anything. I, who go to such reticular lengths in all other areas of my life did not make plans. I believed so whole-heartedly that I shouldn’t, I held very few opinions about making any significant long-term plans. The small stuff, I handled no problem. But when it came to bigger life decisions, I froze. What do I want to do with my life? “I don’t know. We’ll see.” And when I approached Him in prayer, I didn’t express my desires because I twisted the teaching that I shouldn’t desire anything but what He would want. Though that is technically true, He also created me with the thoughts, dreams, and the things that make me satisfied…why would He deny good things that also make me happy? And because I was unwilling to plan, even when He gave me nudges, I wrote them off as my own inklings that He couldn’t possibly want for me.

My particular-ness has been begging to attack the rest of my life, the bigger pictures. Jesus gave me the flexibility to enjoy going to a Greek restaurant regardless of the fact I cannot stand 98% of the ingredients used in that particular type of food. If He has given that kind of flexibility, why would I question my ability to be both particularly planful and still be willing and able to take a different course should He lead me in that direction?

If you struggle with the same frozen-ness in addressing big life goals, will you make a commitment with me? Take a piece of paper, and write out everything you would dream for your life if you didn’t have any restrictions. If you’ve been following Christ as long as I have, chances are solid there won’t be lasciviousness on that list, so let go and just write it out. Let it settle a couple of days…yes, days…review it, add to it (no subtractions!). Give it a couple more days and then bring it to Jesus. Don’t bypass the process. Give it time…don’t let yourself talk yourself out of your dreams. Give it time to percolate; give Him time to pull back the veil of your unbelief and show you how He longs to I’ve you the desires of your heart. Then believe Him.

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