bloom where you are planted

I feel a little bit like a captive in a foreign land.  A world that once felt stable and consistent now feels uncertain and whirling out of control.  The pandemic sure creates the foundation for that feeling.  Who has it and who doesn’t?  What works and what doesn’t?  Are we close to being out of it or not?  Life isn’t normal, yet it doesn’t look very different as I drive around town and see people sitting outside of Starbucks.  But I know it isn’t the same as it was.

And then there are the politics.  Both sides talk about the other as bringing the end of life as we know it.  Will the economy shut down completely?  Will every street be filled with protests and looting?  Will I be given a vaccine that brings life-threatening damage to my body?  Will my president have the sufficient mental acuity to function in the highest office in the world?  And campaign ads are on over and over again!  I see violence, catastrophe, danger everywhere I turn.

I know you feel it, too.  So how do we manage all of that uncertainty and danger?

Last week a friend took me to Jeremiah 29.  It brought me a great deal of hope and, more importantly, a sense of peace.  It settled my soul.

God’s people are captive in Babylon.  It doesn’t feel like home—it isn’t—it is a foreign land, with foreign rulers.  The leaders of Israel, now live in a world insecure and unfamiliar.  They long to return to the secure and the familiar, and into that world God speaks words of hope and peace.

But they weren’t what God’s people were expecting.  Here’s what Jeremiah/God said to people living in their new, strange, disruptive world:

  • Settle down and bloom where you are planted. You can’t control Babylon.  You can’t change your big picture.  So build your houses and settle down.  Plant gardens.  Marry and have children.  And seek the prosperity of that strange, alien city in which you find yourself. 

 

  • Don’t listen to the people who promise you a quick way out. They are lying.  You are going to be there for a long time–70 years.  Don’t put your hope in changing circumstances.

 

  • My plans for you are good. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  You will call on 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 your whole heart.  I will be found by you.”  (vv. 11-14) God has good intentions for us and the best part is that He wants us to find Him!

 

  • I will restore your circumstantial world to that with which you are familiar and comfortable – but not soon.

Comforting words for me.  Stop worrying about the pandemic and the election and settle in and live and love and give right where you are, in your narrow little world.  And remember, His plans are good for you.  And finding more of Him is central to that.

Palmer Trice is an ordained Presbyterian minister.  He is married to Lynne, has three children and has been in Charlotte since 1979. In his spare time, Palmer enjoys golf, tennis, walking and reading.

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