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. Jeremiah 29:11
This is one of the more well-known passages in the bible. People love to quote it in all kinds of situations, but what makes this scripture even more powerful to me is the context. This promise of the Lord was given to the Israelites from Jerusalem, while in the midst of captivity in Babylon, with no immediate plan of relief from their present exile. As a matter of fact, He also says in that chapter that His children should go ahead and plant themselves there…”build houses and live in them…take wives and have sons and daughters…seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you.”
I would not have liked that response. My flesh would have wanted God to reveal His sovereignty and power another way as I bitterly longed for the days back in Jerusalem. This seems to happen to me a lot. When I look back over my life and even today…it’s hard not to take over or try and rewrite the stories the way I think they should end. I sometimes figuratively cross my arms and want to hold my hope hostage until God does it my way.
To quote Paul David Tripp, “Quit being paralyzed by your past. Grace offers you life in the present and a guarantee of a future.” If I’m honest though, there is much I would like to redo in my life. One reason is so that I could do things differently and not EVER repeat them again. On the flip side, I’d love to go back and relive special moments over and over because somewhere along the way I started to believe it will never be that good again. Isn’t it amazing how hugely perfect or imperfect people and events seem once they are in the past? Our memories are tricky like that.
A New Thing
While we need to learn from the past, it’s not where the Lord calls us. PRAISE HIM, He is doing a new thing with new mercies every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) Every morning we wake is a new day with possibilities filled with His grace and mercy. If I only long for or focus on echoes of the past I might miss what the Lord is doing today. Our past and present are not the only things filled with grace and mercy, but so is our future. Because of Jesus, your days ahead are also covered by His sacrifice on the cross. This side of heaven is not the end of our story, and only when we are in Christ can we have hope…because He, in fact, is our hope!
Oh Father, don’t let us keep sleeping through our days. Wake us up to see all that You are doing and let us long to be a part of it! In big or small ways, may we find where You are at work and join You! Let us live fully with whoever and wherever You have planted us this day. Whether in “Babylon” or “Jerusalem”…You alone are God and Your everlasting ways can be trusted!