If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a million times…
“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 hope and a future…”
Jeremiah 29:11… It is a great verse. It does tell us something about God. But it is part of something bigger.
10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 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 hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
The first thing I notice is that Jeremiah 29:11 wasn’t written to me specifically. It was a message for Israel. It was a message of hope that exile would not be the end for Israel. Even after their time in Babylon, God had good plans.
I think there is definitely something that transfers to our day from this scripture. Namely, God has our best interest in mind. He loves us. His plans for our lives are good.
In fact, his plans are better than the American Dream. Sometimes it seems like the things that we want from God are eerily similar to the aforementioned American Dream. We use this verse to assure ourselves that God will bring all those good things into our lives.
But what if God is wanting to give us more than just good things?
It seems that very few people continue on to verse 12- 14 – “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord…”
What if the better thing than good plans and blessings is to find God Himself?
I know it can make us antsy when we talk about finding God when we are seeking God with all our heart. It can almost feel like OUR effort is what is making the difference. We know that life in God is a life of grace. We know that God seeks us, we don’t seek him.
But I wonder if there is a principle of seeking and finding here. Could it be that when we seek God, we put ourselves in a position to hear and respond to God? Could it be that God has been seeking us all along, but we were just oblivious?
I have been to 25 years worth of youth camps. One thing that amazes me is that God always seems to show up at youth camp. Could it be that when we set aside a week dedicated to hearing God, when we put away the cell phones and PS4’s and all the other distractions, we actually are able to hear and respond to the God who has been seeking us all along?
But when we seek God half-heartedly, when we live distracted and running from one place to the next, God seems strangely absent. I think this is what it means to seek God and find God when we seek with all our hearts.
So the next time you hear someone quote Jeremiah 29:11, remember God has something much better than plans for you…
God wants to give you Himself!
Just a thought,