“I wondered if you would come back,” he said.
I’ve written about and talked about the six routines I noticed while reading Nehemiah 10. I’ve described them here, included them in my book about Nehemiah, and was just recording them to be included in a Spiritual Formation on-line course I’m developing. As I was reading my notes, I realized how much I had enjoyed talking with Nehemiah.
I turned to look at him. He hadn’t aged a bit in the last 5 years. But what do you expect from someone who died 2500 years ago?
“You look different, though,” he said. “Healthier, a little more confident, but a little less focused.”
I was intrigued by his description. “How can you tell?”
He smiled and waited a bit. “The physical health is clear. The confidence has been growing over the past few years. But the focus. As you were reading through those routines for the recording, I’m not sure the practices in your life are as clear as they were when the structure of your work was more regular.”
I leaned back to think. He did have a point. When I had talked to him last, I had one main job, with one main office. I showed up, worked, worried, served. During the last three years, I get my paychecks from several places. My schedule is less structured.
“I understand,” Nehemiah said. “I served the king for several years, always clear about what my role was. But then everything changed. My heart was captured by concern for my people in Jerusalem, a thousand miles away. My daily prayer turned from obedient to passionate. There was something I couldn’t fix, but I could plead with God for answers, I could confess my complicity.”
“You prayed that way for months,” I said.
“Indeed,” he said. “Night and day, morning and evening, I confessed and repented for the sins of my people, my family, and myself.”
He smiled. “Sometimes that can bring remarkable focus.”