Today I took a moment to read Nehemiah and Ezra, and the message of the books began to clear up for me: the restoration of Jerusalem did not rest on one man’s shoulders, and was incredibly frail but for the grace of God. I’ve been tempted to think in the past that “I want to be a Nehemiah,” or “I want to be an Ezra,” or Zerubbabel or whoever else stands out from the crowd in the story, but the story is so strange because it just jumps from character to character and no one’s story really fully takes center stage. Even Nehemiah, for whom the entire book of Nehemiah is named, is assisted by what seems like an unending stream of faithful men and their families. Almost to make the point, both Ezra and Nehemiah record the lineage of the returning exiles, so the reader is forced to read name after name after name of exile who, to my recollection, no one in my life has really ever talked to me about or mentioned to me. They were never relevant, they didn’t really matter. They were one of the masses.
Meaning they were just like me.
And, unless you are a governor or of royal blood or are a Levitical priest who happens to be head over whatever initiative God has handed to your people, they’re just like you. Faceless names in a sea of faithful witness.
Today I’m thankful for the kindness that God has given to me and my family in that we get to know so many faithful witnesses. I’m also thankful that we get to see so many stories of those who hurt, who suffer, even those who are far from the God I love, because from the ones that history might ignore come some of the deepest lessons, the greatest victories, the grandest of glorious significance. I’m thankful for the ways that every single life I have met has contributed to my own and deepened my relationship with God, regardless of how short our interactions have been.
I’m thankful to be counted in the ranks of the faceless together with all of you. May we one day see Him face to face.