Find Hope in Exile

Jeremiah 29:11, you keep using that verse. I do not think it means what you think it means.

All right, all Princess Bride jokes aside, it truly hit me this morning that Jeremiah 29:11 is taken out of context quite often.

When I was seeking comfort this morning, Jeremiah 29:11 popped up, so I turned to chapter 29 in the hopes of understanding better, the context of this verse.

It just so happens that I am reading through Job in my quiet times right now, so in reading Jeremiah 29:11, I couldn’t help but feel irritated over the fluffy interpretation we usually take from that verse. At least for me, when I read it, I take it as God will give me all the good things I want, and my wait or suffering will end and some day soon, things will be wonderful.

However, as I walk my christian journey, I see more and more that suffering can continue for a long while, even in the lives of the most faithful servant of Christ (in fact, more so for them than anyone else!).

Unable to glean a new interpretation on my own from this verse and chapter, I turned to other commentaries on 29:11.  It was both sad and a relief  to instantly find people, theologians, saying this verse has been taken out of context and misunderstood repeatedly.

So what is Jeremiah 29:11 about and how does it apply to us?

The Israelites are in exile in chapter 29 and a false prophet has told them that God would free them in two years. Imagine their joy over that!

So, here comes Jeremiah, the “party pooper”, the true prophet and he calls out the lie of the false prophet and gives Israel 29:11. However, prior to that, Jeremiah tells the Israelites that God wants them to (v.7) “seek peace and prosperity of the city to which (He) carried them into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Say what?!

God not only wants them to stay in exile, but find peace there and seek the welfare of the place and the people around them. In so doing, they will prosper and have a future and hope, which may or may not include going home (spoiler alert: none of them end up going home).

Don’t we all have seasons or situations we want to escape? I know I do, and I have used 29:11 as a promise that I will escape, but verse 7 is much more challenging and comforting to me.

In your tough season, remember God carried you and placed you there. “I have carried you into exile.” It’s no accident that you are where you are. The Lord is in control of everything. He gives us free will, of course, but where we are isn’t outside of His will for us. If we are experiencing a long season of waiting or pain, rest assured that God has us there for a reason and because of that we should…

“seek peace and prosperity there.” What if, instead of looking for a way out or agonizing over when this will all be over, we look for joy, fruit, gratitude in the midst of our suffering. We sit there and find God working in it. Thus, we don’t desperately look to get out of the season. We find our home in the place of exile.

Because, just as it says, “if it prospers, you too will prosper”, when we allow a particularly hard season to be used by the Lord, when we choose to find contentment there, we will prosper. God will give us a future and hope. When we accept our circumstances and set our eyes on God’s goodness, our hearts begin to change in the midst of that season and we no longer suffer, but find joy and begin to thrive.

Let’s not constantly seek a way out of our messy seasons, let’s seek to thrive in the midst of it and look for God’s promise for a future and hope within the place of exile.

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My Flesh

My flesh asks for more
my flesh asks for now
it does not want to wait
desires to be satisfied quickly
rather than wait for the best
My spirit aches with a longing for Your way
to sit
to pray
to sing
to spend as much time with You a lone as possible
not to rush to find satisfaction elsewhere
My spirit seeks to live life with a God who is jealous for my attention
for my time and affection
to give you all my heart
soul
mind
my flesh fights
my flesh is foolish
yet He is greater who lives in me
He has overcome

His Best

Singleness can really hurt sometimes. When you have the very real desire for marriage and family, and another year passes you by, and you are seemingly nowhere closer to that dream, it hurts.

What can be hard for me, personally, is when I see a possibility with someone great, but then God says, “No”. I am back at square one and begin to ask God, “When?”, “Why?”, “Who?”.

While reading a book this morning, called Rhythms of Rest, by Shelly Miller, I was reminded of How God brings us into a future far beyond our imagination if we wait and trust in Him.

In the book, the writer and her family feel called to move from the states to London. This has been a great desire of theirs and God confirms through many people , circumstances, and words that He is leading them there.

So, they quit their jobs, sell their personal possessions, put their house on the market, and take their son out of school. They are more than ready to go. And yet, nothing seems to happen. Jobs in London do not line up, their house stays on the market untouched. They must wait in this uncomfortable place where they have laid it all out on the line to trust in the Lord for their dreams.

After a time of waiting and trusting, Shelly says , “And then the better than we can imagine comes true.” Their house sold, her husband got a wonderful job in London, and on top of all of that, a newer, updated, amazingly placed house in London opens up for them. The house is in a neighborhood they assumed was too nice for them, near shops, and a beautiful park.

She writes, that if they hadn’t waited on the Lord, if they had arrived in London just a bit earlier, this house wouldn’t have been an option.

Maybe it is strange to compare this story to singleness, but I am going to connect the dots anyways.

I know many of us are ready. We are seeking Jesus, mature, serving, selfless. We are not holding back our spouse due to our own spiritual life. We have laid it all out for Jesus to give us our dream, but it hasn’t happened yet.

However, if we choose to do something outside of God’s will, speeding things up, we will miss His best. And when we think someone is great and could be a possibility, and God says no, it is probably because He wants something much better for us than we do and only He knows when it will be time.

I know I would be heartbroken if I realized I went outside of God’s plan, only to see that I missed out on something better than I could have imagined.

It might make very little sense. We may hurt deeply as we wait, but be encouraged to wait sisters and brothers, because if you do, I know God will blow you out of the water with His best for you in this area of your life.

 

 

Desires

I read Psalm 37:4 yesterday, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart”, and I found myself frustrated.
When I read commentary on this verse, I always find people reminding me that I need to be delighting in the Lord, seeking His will, spending time with Him daily, and then the desires of my heart will be given to me. Those reminders frustrate me, not because they aren’t important, but because I do them. I do not say that out of arrogance, but out of humility, because I know I need Him every second of every day so I choose to seek after Him. Yet, there are desires of mine that have not been fulfilled, good healthy desires.

In particular, I have desired a Godly spouse, someone to partner with in Christ, someone to laugh with and run the race of life with. God has not brought that person into my life and recently, I have faced some heartaches and pangs over singleness. So, when I read that verse yesterday, I felt angry and asked God, what does that even mean? Because it clearly doesn’t mean, if I seek after You, You will give me the desires of my heart.

So, I sought out someone to speak into this verse in a new way for me and came across a post on livingbyfaithblog.com, written by Steve Fuller. His explanation and understanding of this verse, has given me a renewal of strength and joy in the Lord. I pray that in sharing this with you, it will do the same, no matter what season you are in. I will only share a few sentences that stuck out to me, but will post the link at the bottom of my blog, so you can read it yourself.

“When we delight in the LORD, the desires that we have in our hearts are desires for the Lord. If we delight in the Lord, He will satisfy our desires for Him, by giving us more joy in Him. God promises that if we delight ourselves in Him, His glory and beauty and love and majesty will so fill us that we will desire nothing else. Our hearts will be completely full. We will be perfectly content. He will have satisfied every desire of our hearts- in himself.”

God promises us so much: He will gives us strength, He will never leave us, He will help us, He will anoint us to proclaim the good news, He will go before us, He prospers us, gives us a future and hope, He will meet all our needs according to the riches of His glory, He will deliver us from our troubles, and more! Yet, He doesn’t promise us that He will give us everything we wish for or want. He doesn’t promise us that, because instead, He promises us Himself, that we will be fulfilled in Him. I know that is hard to swallow because there are some good things we truly want, we desire deeply, but if we continue to delight in Him, He will fill us up and satisfy every desire!

http://livingbyfaithblog.com/2014/07/24/delight-yourself-in-the-lord-and-he-will-he-give-you-the-desires-of-your-heart/

Goodness, Love, and Mercy

How could I ever fully fathom Your love?

It would take all my days and then some

To explore every corner

To feel every drop of Your

Goodness

Mercy

Pursuit

It is endless

Yet it is always complete

Full

So why do I look for it elsewhere?

Why do I seek love in others?

In their hands

In their eyes

In their words

Let me get lost

In Your quiet whispers to me

In Your hand holding mine

In Your eyes looking at me

Hanging from the cross

And victoriously rising to give me life

Let me turn to You

Adventure with You

And never grow tired of learning

Of growing

Of spendimy my life with You

Giving You my all

Choose the Good Portion

Luke 10:38-42

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[b]Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
This passage really spoke to me in a different way today.  Maybe you are working hard, living life, serving, loving on others, but all with a place in your heart that asks for something in return, a reward of some kind. You’d like a promotion, a financial breakthrough, more friends, a spouse, or maybe just simple recognition. – That is Martha!

She is doing good, but deep in her heart she is motivated by a selfish desire to please, to make things perfect, to control, and then she seeks after a reward, a thanks from Jesus Himself.

Jesus’s  response always stings me a little because I am so often a Martha and I think a lot of us feel bad for Martha because we identify with her. Someone had to do the cooking and cleaning, right? And we don’t admire Mary as much as we should because we are too busy feeling bad for Martha.

So, when we finally are like Mary, when we choose Jesus first, time with Him, a career path for Him, sacrifice for Him, the path less traveled  for Him, we can stand out like a sore thumb. Everyone around us will seem like Marthas and we might start wondering if it isn’t Martha’s way that is right. After all, her way looks productive, responsible, maybe even admirable, because she is getting things done.

That is why today, as I try and am growing more into a Mary, I find such affirmation and confirmation in Jesus words, rather than the usual sting. “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away form her.”

Maybe you are trying to be a Mary, but you look around you and feel like a weirdo in the midst of worldly pleasure and life. Please hear Jesus. Know that your choice to sit at His feet and listen, to walk closely with Him, to choose His will, not your own is what please Him and in return you receive eternal life, pleasures forevermore, and a relationship that is so intimate and wonderful you will never want to be a Martha again.

“Let your light shine.”

I have heard this phrase ALL my life, especially in my favorite children’s song. Yet it’s meaning has expanded for me.

Sometimes in certain circumstances, I spend the entire time feeling less than, uncomfortable in my skin, ugly, unworthy, etc. I do my best to fight against those lies with God’s grace, but I can’t always shake the feeling.

Today, for me, “let your light shine bright”, means be who God made you to be with no holding back.

Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.’

It struck me that Matthew uses the pronoun “you” and “your”, not “us” or “our”, or even “his” or “he”. The light we have,  comes from Christ and putting our faith in Him. However, we each are uniquely made to shine that light. It is when we let ourselves, our gifts, our personality shine the brightest that we see God glorified.

For me, that is motivating. If I remain insecure and hesitant, not fully seeing the beauty in who God made me to be,  I will be putting my light “under a bowl”. If I choose to confidently be me, then others will see my good deeds and I will glorify God.

So go forth, and let your light shine bright.