A blessed Monday to you all!
Once again, my thoughts for this email did a u-turn and started over. Once again, I heard something that just stuck in my mind and sat there spinning.
As I was listening to my Daily Audio Bible, Brian Harding was doing a commentary on the passages we had just read in Jeremiah. Did you know that Jeremiah 29:11 is the most googled scripture in the Bible? It only makes sense. It is a verse of comfort and hope. It is such a soothing, encouraging, scripture. It is beautiful.
“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
So what does this verse say to you? Like so many places in the Bible, if we take it ONLY word for word and not the total context, the meaning changes. For example, Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” And you leave it there. Never mind about 5:25 and the other surrounding verses! The context changes. Back in Jeremiah, you need to begin reading at verse 4 to gain a better perspective.
“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build homes and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for if it prospers, you too will prosper. Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Do not let your prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them.” declares the Lord.
This is what the Lord says: “When 70 years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:4-11
Brian says: “and that’s it, we have literally taken this scripture completely out of context. Context is very important in the Bible. The context is no less affirming and hopeful, but it fills in the story. Filling in the story is everything to this verse. That is totally different than the way we most often use this scripture. This scripture is sent to a people who are in exile and are just trying to figure out how they can escape, how it is ever going to turn around. God is saying to them, ‘chill out,’ ‘settle down,’ ‘settle in.’ ‘Your way forward is going to take a generation and your way forward is bound up in the welfare of the place that you are in exile. If you feel like you’re in exile right now and you’ve been quoting this scripture, then you know there is more to this story. We spend so much of our lives just trying to be anywhere but where we are. In one way or another we’re dissatisfied almost all of the time in some sector of our lives. Even if we own it, even if we just own it and say, ‘okay, I got myself into this. I realize I’m reaping what I’ve sowed and I want to get out of this and I’m planting new seeds,’ that is a season. It takes a whole season for a new crop to rise up. But we are constantly dissatisfied with where we are now.”
The exiled Israelites are in a “season” and God tells them to settle in until this season passes. They have put themselves here (in exile) and now they need to see it through.
What season is your life in? Are you dissatisfied with yourself physically or spiritually? Are your health issues determining what your life looks like? Is your heart broken or your family falling apart? I think we all struggle with these things in our seasons. We sometimes sabotage our own efforts and sometimes we have other issues affecting us, but I know this, without a doubt. God created each one of us with a very distinct plan. He created us uniquely, like no other. Sometimes, we may have to weather a season of our lives that we would rather just skip, but remember, God has a plan.
Look at the season our nation is in. We don’t know how crazy and bizarre the story may get, but we do know how the story ends. We know that our God wins! No matter who our president is, God is still our king!
We tend to live restless, dissatisfied lives. We long for wholeness and make it about our personal comfort. May we settle in where we are and move on to the adventure that God has planned for us.
In His light,