This is such a familiar verse, and it is often quoted. In my church, it is tradition to throw a party for the High School graduates of the church. Their parents often make a posterboard collage of their lives, and there is cake. And every graduate gets a Bible from the Pastor with a verse transcribed in the front specifically for that graduate. When I graduated in 2004, I received this treatment. This familiar verse, Jeremiah 29:11, was the one written in the front of the Bible for me. Now I don't know if Pastor was specifically led to write this particular verse in my Bible just for me, or if it was considered kind of a generic verse that suited the occasion, just as Psalm 23 seems to suit a funeral. Regardless of the reason that particular verse was chosen, ever since that day it has held particular meaning for me. Sometimes I wish Pastor had chosen a different verse. Blessing someone with this verse seems akin to praying for patience. If you don't know what I mean by that, pray for patience sometime and you will see soon enough what I mean. As such, this verse has a certain poignancy for me. If you have read many of my blogs, you know why. I have had to let go of a lot of dreams. The dream of living on my own in a city. The dream of getting a college education. The dream of having a career in education. The dream of travelling the country, and then the world. More recently, and much more heartbreaking than any of those, the dream of having multiple children. So to have this scripture niggling at the back of my mind brings on a certain painful anticipation. My mom keeps telling me not to give up on these dreams. That God would not have given me such strong desires for them if He only meant to thwart them. Sometimes it hurts less to just let them go. I am learning much. A few years ago I told God that I had had enough of being tossed to and fro by my emotions. That no matter what, no matter what pain, what doubts, what desert of not hearing from Him I went through, I choose the Living God. And it seems He has been testing (or is it strengthening?) that ever since. I am learning that I really do choose Him, no matter what, and what that means. I am learning the many facets that make up the "peace that passeth understanding." That one aspect is pain, another satisfaction, another endurance, and so on. I am learning to wait. And slowly, He is teaching me that another facet is to keep on hoping through the hurt. But to hope for His plan, not mine. That is a hard one. Throughout these years of this verse pricking me and teaching me much, I hadn't given much thought to the context of this verse. A few days ago, though, in my trek of reading through the Bible, it hit me what the people of God were going through when they were given these words. God's people had been spending years in direct rebellion of the Lord by worshiping idols, even sacrificing their own children to these idols. As discipline to His people, God sent war, famine, and disease to wipe them out. But not completely. There was a remnant that He was going to preserve. However, He chose to save them in a way that seems roundabout- by having them captured by the Babylonians, carried off to Babylonia, and kept there for 70 years. Jeremiah was speaking to those captured and living in Babylonia. To those confused and scared and thinking that they were exiled to Babylonia as punishment. When Jeremiah was telling them "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," he was telling the people who thought they were doomed and that it would never be a good thing to be taken from the land of the Covenant, that this was the plan of preservation. As backward as it seemed to those living it, as scary and foreign, God truly had good plans for them, far better than for those left in the homeland. Last year my Uncle Mark was in a terrible car accident. He almost died a few times. He was in a coma for 3 months. He had over 20 bones broken, and had more than 4 surgeries for repair. He may still need more. Right now, he can only walk short distances with a walker, and he is largely confined to a wheelchair. He had the option to press charges against the woman in the other car, but decided not to. Now she has decided to press charges against him. In the meantime, his wife is seeking a divorce. It is clear that things are not going according to Mark's plans. He cannot completely take care of himself, and has been living with my mom and dad since he got out of the hospital in September. This past Christmas, before I considered the context, I gave Mark this verse in a picture frame. I asked him to keep it where he would see it every day. He has. I wonder if it is pricking him as it does me? Wondering how God could have a wonderful future in mind going through all the awful circumstances the Almighty is overseeing him go through? Yet, perhaps this is Mark's Babylon. I look forward to exiting my captivity in Babylon, even as I know it may be the place that God has placed me for safe-keeping. In the mean time, I will "Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce...And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I [God] sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare." (Jeremiah 29:5&7, parenthesis mine.)
I am very thankful Joyce Bethy Ferguson (@Bethy) directed me to your blog, via The Wall, Who. It resonated with me for I must remember these words of Jeremiah 28:5 and 7.
I remember a very dark night in December 2007 five days after I learned about my tumor. I was scheduled for a biopsy a few days later. I wrote about that night the next day in a blog entitled [blog=kreynolds/teardrops/]Teardrops[/blog].
Sometimes, for reasons only fully known to God, we walk a "dark path". Sometimes dreams must be put on hold or perhaps those dreams will never be realized. At the same time, we may be doing things we are not even aware of. Have you ever seen the movie, "Mr. Holland's Opus"? His dream was put on hold it seems. He ended up doing a "temporary job" for 30 years. To him it seemed like he was doing very little and yet nothing could have been further from the truth.
[quote]In the mean time, I will "Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce...And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I [God] sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare." [/quote]
I've observed something over the past few years. I've observed that there are people who put all of their time and energy into seeking God for their deliverance. I'm not saying it is wrong to pray. Of course it isn't but I am talking about the people who are so busy praying for their bad situation, whether it be illness, a marriage situation or whatever that they neglect to do anything else. Consumed by their circumstances, they don't ask God to help them to live victoriously in spite of them. They don't look for opportunities to serve God and they don't attempt to bless others. Their focus is only on themselves.
Does it ever occur to us that the places where we live, our job, and even a hospital room is our mission field? Does it ever occur to us that we are facing a particular situation because God has need of us there? Our prayer should be, "Lead me out of Babylon, Lord... but until you do... how can I serve you where I'm at?
This is an awesome blog!
[quote]You are special in the sight of God.[/quote]
His eagerness to bless us is more than our longing to receive His blessings.
The Word of God is very important to us. It emanates from the mouth of the Almighty God.Let HIS Word abide in you and bring blessings into your life at the right time.
[quote]"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 29:11[/quote]
God does indeed have plans for us but so often we look at the way our life is unravelling and blame God because He hasn't kept his promise. Nothing could be further from the truth though! When our plans unravel it is because of what we have done/not done, not anything that God caused. We live in an 'instant' world but it is when we take time to wait for God's direction that we can look around and see God's plans unfolding.
It is just two years since Irish and I moved to the 'top' of New Zealand, but it is almost as though all the years of pain and heartache that we went through before that have just melted away. God's desire for us is greater than anything we could imagine for ourselves. We are truly blessed, and I know that as you keeping looking to God for his direction, you too will find that peace and joy.
I wonder whether our 'captivity in Babylon' is a euphemism for walking our way instead of seeking God's way? :wink:
Good blog. I found it especially interesting because I have just finished researching that period of Jewish history which resulted in the captivity in Babylon. - bibleguy64