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)
Tuesday, 5th week in Lent
The picture above caught my eye. The camera is zoomed in to the tiniest and closest pebbles on the road. The asphalt surface looks like a rough, rugged, and rocky landscape. It looks like you need durable hiking boots if you want to walk on this road. And then, off in the distance, one can barely make out that the road continues. It wanders over hill and out of sight to a destination unknown.
This picture reminds me of what we are going through right now. We are focused exclusively on what is immediately in front of us, rough and rugged things like: a world-wide pandemic; Stay-at-Home orders from governors; hyper-vigilant hygiene practices; physical distancing; toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages at grocery stores; looming financial and health concerns.
Our focal point has been shortened. It’s all we see now.
In times like these, God invites us to look up. Not only down the road further to know that this too shall pass, but up…to Him. God has plans for us and a future. These plans extend far beyond our short-term viewpoint. They extend into eternity because of the cross of Jesus and his empty grave.
One of the most powerful and poignant verses in the Bible is from Jeremiah 29. “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.” This verse has given comfort to millions of people. Yet not many know the context of this passage.
God spoke this word during one of the most devastating times in Judah’s history–the Babylonian exile. The exile was far worse than a home quarantine; the people of Judah were exiled in a foreign country with no way back. Their time of relief would not come in weeks or months, but in years–70 years to be exact!
Judah went through this time of trial because they had forsaken God. Now it was time to re-connect to Him. God was about to introduce them to his Son, Jesus Christ, sent by God to save the world from sin, death, and evil, and give eternal life to all who trust in him.
God wants us all to look up. Our future is in God’s hands, and he has good plans and a favorable purpose for us that extend past this moment and this life. One important purpose God had for Judah in their time of exile was to seek the well-being of the city and nation that held them captive in their new reality.
Where is God speaking to you in these moments of crisis? Whom is he calling you to serve in your “time of captivity?” Look around. Seek the well-being of those around you in our city with the love of Christ.
In the hands of God,
Pastor Langdon Reinke
P.S. Want or need to talk? Give me a call. I am with you! We have volunteers who are ready to help meet needs. Let us know.