Nehemiah 2:4-5, “The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king . . .”
Nehemiah was the Cupbearer to Artaxerxes, the fifth King of Persia from 465 BC to 424 BC. As Cupbearer, he was responsible to taste all the food and wine before it was served to the king, lest someone tried to poison the king. Being the Cupbearer to the king was a high and most powerful position to be sure. With the position came great responsibility and certain rules of courtly etiquette that had to be observed within the king’s presence.
One rule that was strictly enforced was the rule of always being happy and cheerful in the king’s presence. If one was not happy, it was an insult to the king because it could be construed as saying he’d failed to take care of them. As a result, being sad in the king’s presence came with the possibility of the death penalty.
This is why Nehemiah was very much afraid for his life when in Nehemiah 2:2, King Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”
Nehemiah quickly replied, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Nehemiah was referring to the city of Jerusalem that still laid in ruins from the Babylonian destruction in 587 BC.
That is when the king responded with the now famous question, “What is it that you want?”
What Nehemiah does next, took only a couple of milli seconds, but was absolutely brilliant and life saving. The passage says, “Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king . . .” or in short, Nehemiah “Stopped, Dropped and Rolled.”
Within a millisecond of being asked a question that could have carried with it a capital sentence, Nehemiah completed three steps almost simultaneously. He “stopped” what he was doing. He “dropped” to his knees mentally and prayed to God for help. Finally, he “rolled” with the situation and let God be God with however the situation unfolded.
As it turned out, only a millisecond after asking God for help, he responded to the king by saying, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” And rebuild it, he did.
King Artexeres not only granted Nehemiah his request, but gave him time off from work and all the financial and military resources needed to accomplish the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. This incident at the king’s court occurred around April of 445 BC. By the end of September of that same year, after just 52 days of construction, the walls around Jerusalem were rebuilt. It still goes down as one of the greatest construction marvels of all times. And all this came about as the result of a millisecond “stop, drop and roll” prayer on the part of Nehemiah.
What a great example for all of us to follow. When life throws it’s greatest challenges at us, what do we normally do? How do we instinctively react? What is the first thing you feel like doing? Do you panic? Do you run? Do you try to find somewhere to hide? One of my dad’s funny sayings growing up was, “When in trouble or in doubt. Run in circles, scream and shout.” It wouldn’t be so funny if it wasn’t so true of my own life at times.
Yet God reminds us, if we are his children, we have nothing to fear. When you the lack the need to fear troubling times, it should allow us to act differently in the midst of unsettling circumstances. If God is truly our father and we are completely his children, then as his children, we have no need to be fearful. We are never to be afraid. Concerned? Yes. Paniced? No. Why? Because our heavenly Father promises to take care of us as his children.
Listen to the words of Paul in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, that surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
And while these verses were written by the Apostle Paul nearly 500 years after the time of Nehemiah in Persia and 2000 years before our time today, they are just as relevant then as they are now. God has never given us a reason to panic. God has never given us reason to be fearful. Yes, there are times and seasons of our lives that are troubled and can cause us to doubt about why things are happening the way they are. But not once has God ever said that life’s greatest problems are best solved by having us “run in circles, scream and shout.”
Instead Philippians tells us in words, and Nehemiah shows us by example that when life throws its worst at you, the best thing we can do is “Stop, Drop and Roll.” We should stop what we are doing, drop to our knees in prayer and roll with what God has next. And like Nehemiah, don’t be shocked or surprised if the answer that surfaces is not a death sentence but instead an answer that just moments earlier would have been unimaginable in it’s scope, breadth and greatness. God loves to answer the prayers of his children in ways that takes their breath away. Yet once you gain back a breath or two, it is always best to say, “Thank you, Father.”
So the next time life tempts you to run in circles, scream and shout, might I suggest a better response instead is to “Stop, Drop and Roll”.
It’s just a better way to live.
D. Mike Collins
Habakkuk 2:4 “The Just shall live by faith.”
If you want to see where I got the idea of “Stop, Drop and Roll”, please watch the two minute video from Pastor Daniel Fusco, Crossroad Community Church, Vancouver, WA. You will be blessed.
Shalom Brother, Thank you for your succinct thoughts and for posting the video, you are a blessing.
On Sun, Mar 12, 2017 at 1:36 PM, D. Mike Collins’ Blog wrote:
> dmikecollins posted: “Nehemiah 2:4-5, “The king said to me, “What is it > you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king . > . .” Nehemiah was the Cupbearer to Artaxerxes, the fifth King of Persia > from 465 BC to 424 BC. As Cupbearer, he was responsible” >
Pingback: Thinking about Stop, Drop, Let's Roll - Deb Potts