So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Saturday, October 6, 2012

the darkest moments and the brightest sunshine

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. 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, "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 from the place which I carried you into exile."
Jeremiah 29:10-14

Plans. The very word sends my mind into a semi-frantic worry about the future. About where my life is going and whether I'm going to like where I end up. What college should I transfer to? And what should I major in? What about next summer? What if ______ happens? So much has changed in the last year, how am I even to plan for the year to come?

And then there's the realization that no matter what happens, God's will will prevail.

Which should bring peace... but this dreamer heart of mine all too often wants to fight for "my way". Completely forgetting what "my way" has caused before or simply choosing not to care. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, I far too often decide I want what I cannot have. And that just makes everything harder.

Why must I cling so desperately to what I want, thinking that it's best, when deep down inside I know that my spirit is crying out for Him?

"For I know the plans I have for you... plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

"For I know..."

And slowly... slowly but surely... like so many times before, all my plans being to fade at His feet. Fade at the realization that all He wants for me is good. Every thing He lets happen to His beloved happen for a reason.

When the Israelites received this prophecy, they were in the middle of a seventy year exile in Babylon. Talk about a dark time. Why in the world would God send His people out of their land?

In Jeremiah 25:3-5, Jeremiah says: "For twenty-three years - from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon until this very day - the word of the Lord has came to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened. And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. They said, 'Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your fathers for ever and ever."

It is later in this chapter that God declares the 70 year banishment for His people. To me, it is now much more clear why He sent His people out of the land: they stubbornly and repeatedly disobeyed Him.

And like a little kid who wants to know how everything works and exactly why things are the way they are, I ask for the thousandth time today: "Why? Why not have mercy on them again and let them stay?"

And God, being the good parent He is, has an answer.

He loved them.

He was disciplining those He loved. (Hebrews 12:5 to 6)

But how could such a terrible punishment be completed in love?

Verses 12-13 of chapter twenty-nine say: "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."

Another piece of the puzzle. After the declaration of the exile, after the promise that it is for their good, comes the why; so that, after all they go through, after 70 years of being foreigners, they may finally seek the Lord.

After 70 years of being away from home, He knew that they would finally return to Him. He knew that this would be best for them. Would glorify Him. And then they would be ready to enjoy the land He had promised to them all along. And when ready, He would gather them home. (v. 14)

There's so many kinds of storms in this life. Some brought about by sin, and some just seem to come out of no where. Both can leave us wondering "Why?"

But day by day, God is teaching me to let go of what I see, to let go of the bitterness and the hurt, and to trust in His love. Just like He loved and planned good things for the Isrealites, so He has good things for us.

I'll humbly admit I struggle with deep-rooted doubt. But what if we, together, started to trust Him more bit by bit, day by day? Let's believe :)

P.S.: I couldn't quite fit these verses in! But they've been on my heart while typing so... here they are! :D
The Lord foils the plans of the nations, he thwarts the purposes of the peoples, but the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. (Psalm 33:10-11, and )

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the drifting shadows. (James 1:17)

P.P.S.: This song is AMAZING. It was a burst of sunshine in the middle of a dark time this afternoon. I stumbled upon it on Vicki Courtney's blog (which is also amazing) and thought it fit in pretty well here. Hope you enjoy!