In chapter 2, he asks the king to send him “to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.” He doesn't mention the name Jerusalem (there probably was some sensitivity about that particular city), but the part I found particularly interesting is what came next:
I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king's forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?”What's so interesting about that? Well, maybe not so much in itself, but what I noticed was the contrast with Ezra, which was in the readings from some days past. The part of Ezra I'm thinking of was this:
And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests. So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king's letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.Nehemiah 2:7-9
There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him."What I take from these two men of God is not that Ezra trusted God and Nehemiah trusted in military escorts. And it's not that Nehemiah was bold and Ezra was timid. What I get is that God deals with us in a way that's suited to us. He knows us individually, knows our personalities and inclinations and strengths and weaknesses (besides our joys and tears and aspirations and disappointments).
So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.Ezra 8:21-23
He does not treat us like interchangeable parts; he knows us and cares for each one of us. And the way we honor him is something that's unique to each one of us too. How do I love my children? I love each one for who she is. And that gives me a little picture, a little sense of appreciation for how God loves me—he loves me in a way that's different from the way he loves you, and our paths will be different, and that's okay; indeed, it is very good.