I’ve been reading Jeremiah. I found a treasure!! I knew the book began with God asking “Jeremiah, what do you see?” “I see the sprouting branch of an almond tree.” “You have seen well, for I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it.” And this, spoken in the midst of winter.
But there’s another. In chapter 24 verse 3, God asks again, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” This time he sees two baskets of figs, set before the temple of the Lord. One basket had very good figs, and the other basket, very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten. Jeremiah had seen well again. God explained that the good figs represented the people who had obeyed the word of the Lord and were now in captivity. He sent them out for their good and would watch over them to build them up again. The bad figs, however showed the end of the people who disobeyed the word of the Lord and were still in Jerusalem, holding on to the life they knew.
Jump ahead to Jeremiah 29. In verse 5 God instructs the ones in captivity: “Build yourselves houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat the fruit of them… multiply there, and do not be diminished. And seek the peace and welfare of the city to which I have caused you to be carried away captive; and pray to the Lord for it, for in the welfare of [the city in which you live] you will have welfare.”
For a couple of weeks now, I have been hearing in my spirit, “Bless the city!” After reading this yesterday, I think I understand a bit more of what is on God’s heart. In Eugene Peterson’s words, it’s about A Long Obedience In The Same Direction. If you are living a life that feels “less than you hoped for” when you first obeyed, then be encouraged to stay where you are planted, and bless (literally) the city (or marriage, or workplace, or church…) where He sent you. Instead of dreaming of a way out and wishing you had a different life story, accept your circumstances and put your mind to LIVING within them and blessing your surroundings. If you are where God’s guidance led you, this is what He speaks over you today: Jeremiah 29: 11 For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. If obeying the Lord has led you to a place you do not like – realize He put you there to become part of the very transition you desire. Stay the course, bless your city, and trust Him for the outcome. It will be worth it all!