Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?

Music fans may recognise those words. They come from the fabulous musical, Les Miserables, based on the novel by the French writer, Victor Hugo. It’s a brilliant story with brilliant music. If you are in London, go to see it.

They are words of challenge. Words of invitation. Words of possibility.

Centuries ago, there was a Jewish leader called Nehemiah. He lived at a time when a period exile was ending for his people and some of them had returned to the ruins of their home city: Jerusalem.

Nehemiah had a pretty decent job. He was the cup bearer to the king of Persia. He lived far from Jerusalem and no matter what happened there, he could go on living his life, doing his job.

But it wasn’t as simple as that.

One day his brother came on a visit. It was an opportunity for Nehemiah to ask about what was going on back home (in Jerusalem). Not just in a polite way, but in a concerned way. When he heard about the state of the city and the plight of its people, Nehemiah was broken. Undone. Wrecked.

He wept for days. Refused to eat. Just prayed.

This was not how things were meant to be. Far from it. This was meant to be God’s city, but it lay in disgrace. Something the surrounding people could laugh at.

As he prayed, God put a plan in his heart. And Nehemiah became a catalyst. And a leader. He went back to Jerusalem and led a project of rebuilding and reformation.

His example raises a question for all of us: a bit like the question from that musical. Where do we see something that should be other than it is? Where do we see God dishonoured? Where do we see the brokenness of our world?

And do we care?

Enough to abandon everything to ask God about it?

Enough to join God in becoming part of the answer?

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