Red ink. The bane of literary students, or any student for that matter. You know what it means: misstake, eRr0r, wrong answer, ruuunnnn-on sentence (that was one of my specialties, still is, for all that.) My husband is a teacher, and with some of his exams he allows what I call a do-over (he calls it a “revision”, which sounds much more professorial.) The red ink, or whatever he uses, shows the mistakes which, as disappointing and uncomfortable as it may be at the time, is actually a good thing. The student then gets another chance.
This is what happened with the people in Nehemiah’s day. Having returned from their seventy-year exile to their home in Jerusalem, they were now being instructed from God’s book of the Law, some of them undoubtedly for the first time. Their collective reaction is quite compelling:
“Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, ‘Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the LORD your God.’ For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. And Nehemiah continued, ‘Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!’ And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, ‘Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.’ So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.”
The people were weeping because, when they heard and understood God’s words, they became painfully aware of how far off they had been from obeying it, and, consequently, why they were in such a terrible fix.
So why would the leaders encourage them to stop crying and have a party?
For the very reason that they had heard and understood God’s words!
Recognizing and acknowledging God’s red ink in our lives sets the stage for change, and we can celebrate that God has pointed out WHAT HE PLANS TO REVISE in us. Because God’s love is such that He doesn’t show us something that needs to change without giving us the wherewithal to change it. That’s just part of His total package. That’s why Jesus came.
Our loving Father is quite creative in how He goes about his objective of forming in us the character of Christ. Most times, our rough draft is a bit rough on us also. Has He shown you something that needs to change?
Take heart, and buckle your seatbelt. God’s about to do something.
Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt Book 2) (Kindle Locations 26271-26276). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.