By Barb Christenson
Pastor, Church of the Nazarene
“For I know the 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.”
This scripture has become a source of hope for many people. It comes in many formats: refrigerator magnets, bumper stickers, cards, key chains, necklaces, tattoos and on and on infinitum. It has become a good luck charm, a glorified rabbit’s foot!
I found great peace when I decided to read the story that goes with this great promise of God. It was extremely interesting to me to learn that the people to whom he spoke, were his people. It seems they had forgotten about him. How could that happen? He had brought them out of Egypt with many miracles. He had sustained them through their 40-year walk through the wilderness. But, they forgot him and began to worship gods with other names, and he did not tolerate that! So they found themselves in bondage in Babylon, as common slaves, and they began to cry out to Jehovah God for help.
In the same chapter and the fourth verse, God spoke and told his people, “I have caused you to be carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon….” Did you get that? God had caused their bondage because he so desperately desired to get their attention and bring his beloved back to himself.
God goes on to tell them to build houses, plant gardens, marry, give their children in marriage because he was going to keep them in captivity for some time, in fact, in verse 10 he tells them that after 70 years he will visit them again and cause them to return to their own land.
Wow! Seventy years! That my friend is a long time! God knew it would take that long for their hearts to cry out to him in repentance and humbleness. In verses 12-14 He tells them that he would bring them back into freedom when they would seek him with all their hearts!
How many of us today are in bondage; physical, financial, relationships gone awry, chemical and sexual addictions, and etc. Our world has become a frightening place in many ways. I wonder if some of the dilemmas we face are a result of getting our eyes of the navigator of our souls and worshipping gods with other names. I am sure there are some reading this column who have not gotten their eyes on him yet. He is waiting for us to “need” him, or to acknowledge our need for him.
Does that mean all of my troubles will be over? Nope! But it means the only one who can help us “navigate” through the dark places in life will guide us. The light will shine again and we will be set free from the encumbrances that keep us from that peace that passes all understanding.
If you have lost your vision of him or do not know this wonderful savior, do not wait 70 years to seek Him. He is ready to help you today!