On more than one occasion I remember doing obstacle courses when i was in the army. There were vaults. There were ropes. There were beams. Think up an obstacle and some how a cadre member had already dreamed up that creative problem for you to overcome. To get through some obstacles we had to ditch some of our gear. Nehemiah gets off his horse. He has too much baggage. All he needs for YHWH to intervene is nothing. Empty handed, he now has the ability to receive.
Nehemiah 2:12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. 13 I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass.
We are now in the second chapter of Nehemiah. He has left his job as the royal cupbearer. He has heard of the plight of his fellow jews and has entered into their situation. When he arrives in Jerusalem he discovers the derelict walls. But he is not satisfied with secondhand information about the state of affairs. In the stillness of night, he steals away to inspect the wall. There comes a point that he realizes he cannot know the actual state of the walls unless he strips down from his position of privilege. There is some information that can only be gained indexically, that is, by first hand experience.
All you need is nothing.
In order to properly survey the ruins he must enter into the ruined condition of the walls. He must ditch all pretenses and airs of being sorted. The only way that the city’s wall can be repaired, is if he admits his inability to bring about this repair.
Quite literally, Nehemiah has to get off his high horse. All he needs for YHWH to intervene is exactly nothing. The moment he comes to God empty handed, he now has the ability to receive. He never had the ability to receive while he was clinging to his power, wisdom, money and talents.
So it is with us. Often we come to God and say, “I will take you plus a little of my goodness.” Or “I will take you and little bit of my talents.” It is only when we come and say, “I will take you and no one else,” that we enter into that amazing covenant of love with God.
Jesus is not just the nobleman who dismounts a horse to inspect a wall. He leaves Heaven to enter into his people’s plight not only to see their broken down ruins, but to become broken down and ruined on the cross that we might be whole.
Lay your baggage down.