My love for stories does not discriminate against any and I find amazing lessons from the stories shared in the Bible. The story below has powerful lessons for me, particularly at this time of the year; as we approach the end of the year in a few hours time with most people saying good riddance to 2018 and looking forward to 2019 in the hope that it will be a “better” year compared to 2018.
The story is extracted from the book of Jeremiah, chapter 29:
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those (He) carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
It will be a long time. Therefore build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
“When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 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 29:4, 28, 6-7, 10-11 NIV http://bible.com/111/jer.29.4,28,6-7,10-11.niv
Summary points from the story:
- The Almighty God sent His beloved people to exile in Babylon from Jerusalem after they had not listened to Him over a long time.
- He then sends his prophet Jeremiah to write this letter to all His people in exile so they may be informed.
- In the letter, the key message to them is that “it will be a long time” before he brings them out of exile; 70 years to be precise.
- “Therefore”, the letter continues and then lists a number of things they should focus on to enjoy themselves where they are instead of whining about going home.
- God reminds them that His promises to them are good and He always fulfills them.
- He reminds them again that His original plans have always been to prosper them and give them hope and a future and never to harm them.
The Lord also tells them to pray for the good (peace and prosperity) of the cities they currently dwell in as captives because that’s where they will also benefit from.
I don’t know about you, but my first take from this message is a powerful lesson about being present wherever I am in life, no matter what is happening – what we nowadays call ‘the Power of the NOW’. I find it easier to escape into fantasy or step into regret when I face tough times or life is not going according to my plans and literally wait for the improvement of that situation. Imagine if I did that for an entire 70 years.
God is literally telling His people to continue to LIVE, have FUN and BE PRODUCTIVE in exile, in spite of the exile conditions. Yes, He told them to laugh and play, get married and have children. Putting their lives on hold until God got them out of exile could actually be a sin because it would be a defiance of God’s message.
70 years is a long time my friend and a lot could have happened in that time. Some people surely died in exile, holding on to the promise of going home. Did that change the plans that God had for all His people? In Hebrews 11, after going through a list of people considered to be the heroes of faith, the writer concludes chapter 11 by saying:
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:13-16 NIV http://bible.com/111/heb.11.13-16.niv
I don’t know what year 2018 was for each of us. For some it could have been year 5/70; whilst for others year 35/70 or even 69/70. I therefore also don’t know what year 2019 will be for each of us. I have no idea who our captors will be either. What I know is that we are commanded to live our best lives as long as there is breath coming out wherever we are. We are commanded to be present in each moment, experience everything and even pray for the captor’s prosperity and peace. Perhaps we can lead clean up campaigns in the cities we live in and not only send money home to take care of the environment there. Perhaps we can finally start that recycling program and take care of the planet as we recognize ourselves to be global citizens. Perhaps, we can consider taking care of the orphans in the cities we work in. The list is endless.
May we all have a beautiful 2019 filled with love and gratitude. May we embrace each moment and not miss a thing. If any of us dies during 2019, as it is sure to happen; may we die having lived our best lives. Simply because God says so. He knows the plans He has for us and they are plans for us to prosper, plans to give us hope and a future.
I love ♥️