One of the verses I see posted a lot is Jeremiah 29:11, 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 a hope and a future. It’s the verse that is often given to the graduate or the parents of a newborn. While it is encouraging and a blessing to know that God has plans to prosper us or as one translation says “plans for welfare,” there is more to the text.
Jeremiah chapter 29 is actually a letter from Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon to let them know what God had told him. He writes to the exiles, thus says the LORD of hosts the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there and do not decrease (verses 4-7).
God wanted His people to know they would be in Babylon for a long time. In verse ten it says, For thus says the LORD; when seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. The Israelites would be in Babylon for longer than it took their ancestors to follow Moses to the Promised Land.
The letter doesn’t tell them to mourn, to whine, to fret, or complain. God is clear, they are to go forward, to continue to live, to get married, to have kids, to grow crops and harvest them. To have grandkids, to be actively engaged in the life they had right where they were. They were to take action. In the middle of this exile the Israelites could have even passive, waiting for something to happen to them. But God told them to fully engage where they were, they were called to action.
Many of us who claim Christ fall into the habit of waiting. Waiting for the job we believe we are supposed to have, for the spouse we are supposed to marry, the house, the car, the situation, to come to us. But God says clearly, engage! We believers didn’t accept Christ to immediately be beamed up to Heaven like an episode of StarTrek. No, we are called to engage with others, to share, to teach, to love, and to forgive during each day we are with those around us. And as we are acting, we are also listening actively to God for the places and steps He is calling us to take next.
Jim Elliot said it best, Wherever you are be all there. This is much like the call to action God gave to the Israelites. Jeremiah 29 is full of action verbs, reminding us that we are to be intentional and purposeful in what we do. Just as we are being equally and simultaneously obedient to God’s call for us and to us.
Best Beloved, I challenge you to spend some time in Jeremiah 29, reading God’s call to His chosen people. While you read, circle the verbs. See if you are not challenged to be fully engaged in the life God has you living, right now, in this very moment. Not later, not where you used to be, but where you are is this season. Until He calls you to the next one, be all there.