Red Letter Days: Introducing a new series
A Red Letter Day is a day of significance or opportunity. It is the sort of day that a person looks back on and picks out as memorable or life-changing. In the Bible we read about the lives of different characters, many of whom experienced days which changed their lives forever. One could think of Moses on the day he saw the burning bush, or Mary when the angel Gabriel visited, or Paul on the Damascus road, to name just a few.
In this series of blog posts we hope to describe some of these ‘Red Letter Days’ and consider their significance for the people involved, in order to draw some lessons for us.
As part of this series, each blog post will also feature a worship video and an opportunity to bring a creative response to each author’s thoughts. We would like to encourage different creative responses. This could be a song, a video, a drawing, a piece of art – digital or in any medium, a poem, a creative way of taking notes, a photograph, anything that is a creative way to respond to the ideas in the blog post and the Bible passages. ‘Red Letter Days’ will be posted monthly and each time there will be a place at the end of the post for you to link your work from your blog, Instagram account or Flickr.
We hope you will enjoy this series and share your creative response with us!
Nehemiah before the king (Nehemiah 2:1-8 )
Nehemiah stood there stunned. Had he heard correctly? His heart started to pound as a lump of fear rose to his throat. King Artaxerxes had asked, ‘Why is your face sad?’ What should he say in response? Dare he tell him what was really on his mind?
About four months previously, Nehemiah had heard troubling news from his brother Hanani. Jerusalem, the city of David and capital of the now conquered nation of Judah, was in ruins. The walls were broken down and the gates had been burned and Nehemiah hadn’t been able to get the situation out of his mind. Since he had heard the news, Nehemiah had prayed and fasted, and wept and mourned for the city. He had called upon the God of heaven and pleaded with Him to remember His promises to His people.
And so here he now stood, the cupbearer to the king. He had simply come into work that morning expecting that it would be like any other day at work of testing drinks to check for poison. But this question felt important!
A life-changing day
Red Letter Days can be like that: one minute everything is going along as normal and the next everything changes. On that day everything changed for Nehemiah. The king noticed he was sad and in the conversation which followed Nehemiah’s life was transformed.
As you read on in the story you will see that Nehemiah asks for some outrageous favours such as being allowed to take a trip to Jerusalem in order to rebuild it, letters of authority from the king to ensure safe passage, and resources so that he is able to carry out the building work! All of this is granted. Nehemiah began the day as a cupbearer to a king and ended it with a remit which would lead to him being a damage assessment consultant, a town planner, a wall-builder, a leader of an army, a soldier, a law maker, and a nation builder.
Now that is a life-changing day!
What about you?
I’d like you to notice that this all came about for two reasons:
Firstly, Nehemiah was prepared. Nehemiah had heard the troubling news, carried it in his heart, and was burdened by it. God prepared Nehemiah’s heart for the work he had called him to do so that when the right moment arrived he was ready to go. So what is it that God has put on your heart? What passions do you carry around? What is it that stirs you to call out to God for Him to act?
Secondly, Nehemiah knew that ‘the good hand of my God was on me’ (v8). Nehemiah didn’t force any of these events to happen. This Red Letter Day and its consequences flowed from God intervening in the situation. God had prepared Nehemiah and also the heart of the king, then when the time was right God acted. This can be an encouragement to us. We might not be called to rebuild a city or lead a nation but God has plans for us and we can know ‘the good hand of God on us’.
Thank you for joining us for the first our Red Letter Days series. We would love to see your creative response to this post. To add your creative response please use the link below: