Eleven years. For eleven years I have been preparing to be ordained. Four years I spent in college, three of those at Central Bible College. I had the privilege of studying at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for 3 years additional years. For the past four years, I have been serving at Calvary Christian Church in Lynnfield, MA, as an associate pastor. Eleven years of preparation, and it will all pay off next week. With my ordination service quickly approaching Tuesday, I have been giving much consideration to what it truly means to be ordained. One place I have ended up in searching for that meaning is back in the book of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah was given a very specific task to accomplish by God, to give leadership over the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. Although Nehemiah was given this responsibility by God, in Nehemiah chapter 2 we see that the King of Persia, who Nehemiah was a servant to, gave him a letter stating that he approved of Nehemiah's mission. The letter gave Nehemiah safe passage back to Jerusalem, it allowed Nehemiah to utilize the king's resources in rebuilding the wall, and much more.
Now as soon as Nehemiah starts rebuilding the wall there were some who starting ridiculing Nehemiah, saying the walls couldn't be rebuilt and doing everything they could to stop the work from being completed. These same complainers even make the accusation in Nehemiah chapter 2, "What is this you are doing?…Are you rebelling against the king?"
Now at this point I would probably pull out my letter from the king, and rub the whole letter with the king's signature and royal seal in their face. But that is not what Nehemiah does. Nehemiah does something completely different, he does something profound. Nehemiah doesn't respond by mentioning the king or his letter at all, he simply states, "The God of heaven will give us success."
To me that is amazing response. Nehemiah's letter from the king was his Ace of Spades, he could have thrown it down at that moment and ended the conversation, but he realized he had someting better than that letter…he had God's backing.
As I think about my ordination, I sort of feel like Nehemiah. I will be receiving a very imporant "letter" that says that I have all the blessing and support of my denomination, but as great as that is I, like Nehemiah, have something more important…I have God's backing. No matter where God calls me I know that my great source of strength, protection, help and so much more. Nehemiah lived his life with this undrstanding. I hope I can as well.