The Plans of God: Part 1

Jer 29-11

I remember when I felt the Spirit of God speak these verses into my spirit on April 25th, 2005: “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.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the Lord.” These very familiar and comforting verses have no doubt spoken to many of us over the years.  God has a way of speaking His word over us collectively and yet also uniquely into each of our lives, filling us with His assurance that we are special, we are known to Him individually and He has taken the time to carve a personal path for us along life’s way. But as stirring and thrilling as those words may be when we first read them, there are times when they can seem to ring untrue.  Struggling with loneliness, finances, difficult children, broken dreams, shattered lives, unmet hopes, unfulfilled promises, illness and loss, these words can turn to cold comfort, ringing hollow.  God might even seem cruel or partial: what about me God, what about Your promise to me?  I recall struggling with finances in the early days of our marriage yet still faithfully tithing, giving extra where we could, and believing God to open the storehouses of heaven upon us and just fix it all.  But it didn’t happen that way.  I recall sitting in a church service where one of the pastors described a financial need his family had and how they awoke to find money literally strewn across the foot of their bed.  I wept in that service; not with hope but with bitterness.   God was playing favorites and my heart was broken.  In all of the moments, days and seasons where I could not reconcile the Word of God with the way life was unfolding, I thank God that He imparted to me the revelation given to Peter: “to whom shall we go Lord, You have the words of eternal life”. (John 6:68) When we are stirred in our spirits to remember that we serve the only living God, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, we persevere because there is no longer any other option open to us.  We have burned our bridges, we have abandoned the gods of past follies, we have been left without hope apart from the One who holds our lives and our very breath in His hands.  I find that in this past year, when I come before the throne of grace I often cry out, “my hope is in You Lord, I have no hope but You, there is nowhere else I may run, my hope is in You Lord.”  Yet so often when we face trials we forget that God has already forewarned us, “in this world you will have trouble”.  BUT  (don’t you just love it when there is a “but”), behold the underlying truth: “take heart! For I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

So let’s revisit Jeremiah 29.  We started in verse eleven but let’s back it up a verse.  Verse 10 reads: “this is what the Lord says: when seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.” Seventy years.  Wow.  And what about the second half of verse 14: “and will bring you back from captivity.  I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” It seems that the promise of hope, prosperity and a future were given in the context of exile, when God’s people were living in a foreign land.  Living in a foreign land, especially being sent there against your will, would be a hardship, a confusing, unhappy place where the language is bewildering, the food is unsatisfying, the customs perplexing, the streets unfamiliar, the neighbours strangers.  And all the time your heart is longing for home.  Imagine if in that place you read that God had special plans for you, to give you hope, prosperity and a future.  Imagine the joy and excitement rising in your heart.  Oh yes Lord, yes, I believe, I receive Your promises my God, thank You, You are my deliverer, my Redeemer, my Saviour!  Imagine reading that same verse, in that same place, in those same circumstances, a week later, a month later, a year later … a decade later.  Oh Lord, why have You abandoned me, why have You not rescued me, Oh Lord, are Your ears deaf Oh God, do You not hear my cries, how long Oh Lord must I suffer, am I doing something wrong, have I not tithed enough, have I not prayed enough, have I not fasted long enough, is there some secret sin, tell me Lord, show me!  Yet when we read those verses in context, we see that the Lord considers His promise to be gracious, a gracious promise that included those seventy years, not gracious in spite of them.  God did not add this promise afterward because He forgot about them, then felt bad about the Israelites suffering in exile and was trying to make it up to them.  Those years did what nothing else could.  They shaped character, built perseverance and developed hope, not in themselves but in the only One who could keep them; they trusted in God.  When we read the promises of God and then zoom out to see them in a wider context, we see throughout Scripture a wilderness theme, a time where exile sets us apart for some character building, to conform us to His image.  Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8), how much more we, who are destined to be co-heirs with Christ. (Romans 8: 17)

All is Calm

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About dosedependent

Hello! I'm passionate about my faith in Jesus Christ, eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet and living life with my family in northern Manitoba.
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4 Responses to The Plans of God: Part 1

  1. YEDIDIA NGOY says:

    Thank you Julie for sharing the plans of GOD with us!
    I just feel like you describe : like someone who feel lost, abandoned, rejected,etc. Why GOD?
    Yes I am not perfect and I have many weaknesses in my life and my flesh is my great enemy!
    I want to be used by GOD as HIS instrument, but my past and present mistakes and failures prevent me to say to HIM :’YES, here I AM. Use me LORD!!! Too much accusations and guilty.
    May GOD reveal me HIS grace and HIS love for me despite my mistakes! LORD I NEED YOU!

    Yedidia

    • Thank you Yedidia for your very open and vulnerable reply. The enemy loves to keep us under condemnation. Thank God that because He knew what He was getting when He chose us; our faults and mistakes do not take Him by surprise. Instead of our humanity disqualifying us, the blood of Jesus qualifies us!! Our very brokenness becomes a vessel for God’s glory to shine through us. Don’t let the enemy steal that great plans that God has for you!! Boldly come before the throne of grace and then walk with your head held high – you are a daughter of the King!
      Love and blessings
      Julie:)

  2. carmen says:

    Great verses!! Preach it sister!! True, life can be difficult and we are left wondering sometimes, but it comes down to trusting God, that He knows what’s best for us. Trust Him that He always has our best interests, that He loves us–He already proved that He loves us (John 3:16). God’s promises are true!! God’s timing is precise!

    Father knows best!!
    Blessings!!
    ♥ carmen

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