Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT)
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
I am impatient. I do not like to wait. The Lord has taken every possible opportunity to stretch my patience, but I am a tough cookie. I am married to a wonderfully imperfect person who just like me is not always right or willing to admit it. Five children were another notch in the belt of this lengthy challenge who thought they would come with individual personalities and such strong wills. Four years of doctor’s appointments and test results worked me over pretty good. At the age of forty-nine, one might think I learned my lesson but apparently not. My grandmother warned me from an early age that I must be patient. I didn’t pay much attention because I was going to make things happen in my life. Oh boy did I. We will leave it at that. I had big plans that dissolved into dead dreams when I took my life into my own hands. Can anyone relate? With each new day, I have a to-do list longer than the hours and the minutes that are allotted. I have hefty aspirations and lofty pursuits that are well beyond my reach without the Lord yet I go for it anyway all in the name of faith. Every time the Lord moves in my life, it feels as though there is a wait time associated that is a little longer than the last. The hardest part of it all is sticking with the plan especially when it doesn’t look like the one predisposed in my mind.
I will be transparent enough to say that I am tired of waiting. This is probably why the Lord only gives me tidbits and not full explanations or I would surely try to make things happen all by myself rather than waiting in faith and confident hope for the Lord’s Plan to unfold for my life. The Lord says, “I know the plans that I have for you, ________!” (Insert your name.) They are good plans. Plans to give you a future and hope. Do you believe that God really thinks about you enough to plan every moment of life? Faith requires that you do. His Word says it and that must settle it for you to continue to pursue God and what He has for all of His Children. It is an individual endeavor and not a corporate goal. You must decide that Psalm 139:16 is completely true and that in our creation God decided every moment of our life in advance. This removes fate from our life equation. It means that as long as I pursue God and His Plan I will have a future and hope. This promise alone should keep me on track…oh if it were only that easy.
This morning when I woke up it was the expressed desire to relieve the discontentment that I am feeling as I wait for the Lord to reveal the next step in His Awesome Plan for me. Dissatisfaction is not characteristic of faith in God but the evidence of fear and doubt that will soon lead us off track. So I diving into the Word, naturally I found myself right here with the people who were exiled in Babylon. The Lord spoke to the prophet – Jeremiah – and told him to share this word with the people. But I cannot take a few verses and build my life on this tiny monument. I must expand my view to the verses before and find some corroborating verses along the way to solidify it in my heart and soul to stay in this place of waiting until the Lord perfects my way.
Jeremiah 29:4-7 (NLT)
This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
I climbed back to the beginning of this chapter to look and see if the Lord had left us some tips for the waiting periods proceeding our promise and, of course, He did. Wait times feel like exile. Exile is the prolonged separation from one’s country or home as by force of circumstances. It is not a vacation or picnic but to be expelled from our natural setting. Welcome to the world of waiting. Those times when we know we are in a temporary place for an extended amount of time without the comfort and security of home. We are temporary residents and the closer the walk with the Lord the more foreign we become. That is another story for another time. But let’s just say for argument sake that you have decided that God has promised something that you want enough to wait for. What do we do while we wait? We are to prosper.
How in the world does one prosper outside of our element battling conflicting emotions? We must build our home in the wait time. We must live like we will stay there forever. We must work for peace and prosperity right where we are. Like the Christian saying promotes – we are to bloom where we are planted. The Holy Spirit lives in us producing certain fruits that allow us to grow and prosper from within rather than being reliant on the environment. We must live and thrive where we are now to step into the future. We are not to dwindle but live as unto the Lord and committed to His Promise before we see it on the horizon. The exiles would wait for seventy years. Is it a coincidence that we are promised seventy years in life? This world will never be perfect. We are perfected in Christ alone. We must set our heart and mind on God’s Promise and decide to pursue it no matter how life looks now. We must wait it out. We must stick to the plan.
Jeremiah 29:8-9 (NLT)
This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let your prophets and fortune-tellers who are with you in the land of Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams, because they are telling you lies in my name. I have not sent them,” says the Lord.
(Sigh.) What else can I say? People are incorporated in God’s Plan for our life. People can be problematic. Do not let “your” prophets or fortune tells trick you. The lie of the enemy can be planted in the tiniest seeds. God speaks to His People individually. Other people should confirm what the Lord has already spoken to us by His Word or through His Spirit. We must own our relationship with Jesus Christ. It must be our own personal endeavor. If we know the Lord than other Christians, preachers and prophets can be examined effectively rather than taken at face value. Christians, preachers, prophets, teachers, deacons, elders and anyone else in leadership in the church are just imperfect people just like you and I. Too many times people allow them to become high priests taking the place of Jesus Christ who is our High Priest. How? By not maintaining a personal relationship with the Lord and relying solely on the relationship of mentors. If you do not know the Truth found in God’s Word and have an intimate relationship with God’s Spirit, how will you discern the Truth from a lie? The slightest deviation can rob you of the rich, satisfying life that Jesus died to give us. We must take responsibility for our life. We must give our mind, body and soul to Jesus and develop a personal relationship with Him. He will tell us the next step. He will show us how to live. He will make us prosper when we follow Him.
Now back to the promise at hand…Jeremiah 29:11-13. We have already decided that God has a plan for us. We know that his plan has a prescribed time limit even though we don’t know how long that may be so we prepare for longevity. We know that it is a good plan so we will wait for it. Can you feel the rungs of the ladder? We are climbing up the watchtower of waiting. How I dread this place? It feels so restrictive and isolating until I settle down. Now I keep my eyes on the horizon because I know the Lord is coming. (Habakkuk 2:1-3) Habakkuk 2:3 tells us to write the vision and make it plain. I totally recommend this to every believer. Keep a journal. In the wait time when things seem to be taking too long, it will remind you what brought you to this position in the first place. It helps regain focus. It can be vast encouragement when no one else understands you will hear the Voice of God again. Now what?
Pray. Pray without ceasing. Keep praying. When you are fine, pray. When you are not okay, pray some more. This is God’s Plan. You need His Direction. You need His Encouragement You need to know His Voice. He wants to hear yours. Prayer is part of accessing our promises. God’s Best requires our full attention. We must seek the Lord wholeheartedly. Waiting will never be successful without a true commitment to see it through. Compromise thrives on those who are not committed. If you are willing to bargain for less, you will get it every time. You will have your promise if you stick with God’s Plan.
Proverbs 16:1-4 and 9 (NLT)
We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster.
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.