It was more than a beautiful morning. The Golden Finches and Nuthatches surrounding our house in the woods were orchestrating today's symphony. Each musical different than the day before. The rising sun casting a shadow on the lower half of the looming trees that line the front of our house, contrasting the darkness and light of creation. The air is crisp, slightly cool and feels soft on my skin as it blows whispery light across the deck. Rooster crows. Hummingbird sips. My husband joins me. Peaceful. Good. God is good.
This was in great opposition to the 48 hours that would follow. Two days that threatened to consume me, devour me, utterly defeat me and make me forget all about the presence of my Father that morning. After changing plans to meet a loved ones needs, they proceeded to follow one bad choice with another - costing them hundreds in fines, a suspended drivers license, being asked to leave a public place and embarrassing us beyond compare. The same loved one that I'd devoted time and energy to countless time for no less than four years and there was no end in sight. No, I was not declaring God's goodness in these moments.
With heavy heart, uncertainty and desperation I opened my Bible that evening to pick up where I'd left off the night before - Jeremiah 28. I'd been reading through Jeremiah nightly, well almost nightly, and for the most part, was more than ready to "just get through it." I get lost in its repetitiveness, and doom and gloom. At least tonight I knew I'd come across my favorite verse, Jeremiah 29:11 and knew all would not be lost.
In a hurry to get to verse 11 I planned on quickly reading the first 10 verses. But, at verse 5, I slowed to a stop. God had instructed Jeremiah to tell the people to "Build houses, settle down, plant and eat. Marry. Have children and grandchildren. Seek peace and prosperity - even pray for it." All this in a land that was foreign to them. Where they were held captive by the King. He continued by saying that in 70 years He will come and rescue them from this adversity and fill His promises. "Because He knows the plans He has for them" - wait for it - "Plans for prosperity, hope and a future." He will bring them back to the beginning of it all.
Those words hit me much like a brick sandwich would hit the pit of my stomach. God was telling them to buckle their seat belts, they were in for a long ride. I swallowed hard. A longer ride? I'll exit the moving vehicle now, thank you. I don't want to buckle my seat belt or batten down the hatches or set up camp. I want deliverance. Freedom. Healing. Restoration - for myself and for them. But, just as God told His people to make the best of a difficult situation, so He told me to do the same. I closed my eyes, feeling more than hopeless.
Fast forward to the following morning back on that same deck. A new symphony sounded through the trees. But all did not feel so peaceful this day. The orchestra seemed to lament the great sadness bubbling up inside of me.
Little did I know that as I read through Jeremiah 29 the night before while my heart was about to shatter into a million pieces, God had placed a devotional in front of my husbands eyes. He asked if I'd mind reading it this morning instead of the book we had been reading - He also unaware of the battle that had kept me awake the night before.
I began reading. A lump caught in my throat as John Eldredge shared just a few of the tragedies that surrounded him and his family. He pointed out that these things can rob us of our desire and ability to imagine life with Christ, or to imagine that in the midst of all the trauma, that Heaven exists, let alone, waits for us.
Instead, we fantasize about publishing novels, banana splits and that dream vacation. It's human nature to day dream yet we rarely daydream about Heaven. "We can't conceive of it, so we simply don't think about it," writes John.
But, why can't we? Jesus said in Matthew 19:28-29 that when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, ALL things will be renewed!" There will be a final restoration! He will make EVERYTHING new!
See, friends, just the night before I lay in bed completely defeated and overwhelmed and feeling terribly alone in this battle. God had said, "Put down your roots here - you're not going anywhere for a while." Sadness.
But God. That dispiriting thought was met face to face, head on, with another promise that morning - All things, myself and my loved one included, will be restored and renewed! That restoration may not be seen here on earth, just as some of the people from Jeremiah may not have survived the 70 years before God fulfilled His promise to them - I can trust and know that Heaven awaits and it will all be made good.
God never leaves us alone with the dark realities of this earthly world. Instead He leaves us with His promise that His plans for us are for prosperity that may not be achieved here...but we know it awaits us. Dare to dream.
And, maybe, just maybe, it was a promise I'd live another 70 years? *wink