Finding God Where You Are
It doesn’t take long to figure out that I have a phobia of flying. Now, in the last year or so as I’ve been flying more frequently, I have gotten a bit better but only after a major pep talk before heading to the airport. A few years ago on a particularly disturbing flight, my husband leaned over to me and said “If God wants to take you home, He’s going to do it whether or not you’re on an airplane.”
Way to be gentle, Leach.
It’s extreme, I know, but definitely helped my perspective. God is in control of the outcome, no matter what my choices are. I only feel like I have authority over what happens to me.
I feel like I can control sickness if I just take my vitamins, eat healthy and exercise.
I feel like I can control my kids’ choices if I just point them to scripture and set rules and boundaries.
I feel like I have authority over what happens in my life.
Here’s the thing. We do have choices. God graciously gives us free will and we can choose one path or another, to seek him or not, to sin or not to sin. These choices have consequences and effects, both good and bad. We get a particular job, we change career paths, we start a business, we get married, we have kids. A lot of this is within our discretion, right?
But no matter how careful we are, how planned and prepared and discipline we can be, sometimes - wait for it - life just happens to us. People get sick, relationships fail, family disappoints us, tragedy and death and destruction and sin happen to all of us - whether we like it or not.
We were created in God’s image for a perfect relationship with Him. This is what our purpose was. Is. But sin now exists and along with it came heartache and ill will and sickness and disease that is, simply, beyond our control. It’s above our pay grade. And then we find ourselves devastated and heart broken, despite all the work we’ve put in.
We follow God, we go to church, we serve the community. We try to be good people. And then when tragedy strikes, we ask God “Why me?”
But what if that’s the wrong way to ask that question.
Running after Jesus during my personal season of brokenness and freedom, there was a verse that I continued to struggle with in scripture. I’d say it’s one of the “top five” verses that people like to pull out and slap on top of a difficult circumstance, or to encourage a freshly graduated rockstar in life.
“'For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
You’ve heard it, right?
Most likely someone has written it on a card for you once or twice in your life. You’ve probably written it out for someone else - I know I have more than a dozen times, I'm sure. But the problem came for me when I thought - wait, what if I’ve already been harmed? What do I do with that? What if my welfare has already been compromised - does that mean God doesn’t have this for me?
Oh, we of little faith, my friend.
When you have a minute, I really encourage you to go read this verse in context, because it really is a beautiful description of redemption. The thing that we all miss when we pluck it out of the surrounding verses is what was required to get here in the first place.
Seventy years of destruction. Of brokenness. Of exile. Of wilderness.
God was talking about Israel - about bringing His people back together - but only after He allowed the consequences of sin and desertion to break down their pride and self reliance. God was making this promise to Israel, but I want to get to the heart of what God is saying here.
The word used for welfare in the original Hebrew means these four things : completeness, soundness, welfare, peace. Think about that.
God wasn’t saying no bad thing will ever happen to you again, but instead that their hearts would find completeness and soundness with Him.
How do we know that?
The very next verses are, in my opinion, the most applicable to our own lives and situation : “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart, and I will be found by you’ declares the Lord,’.
Perhaps what God is talking about here isn’t safety and welfare in a physical sense, but instead in a spiritual and emotional sense.
God designed us to walk with HIm. Walk in His will, for Him and with Him and next to Him. But sometimes life gets in the way, the brokenness of our world distracts us from the One Who we were designed to be with - to be like.
So what I want to encourage you with today is this : God does have plans for you. No matter what has been done to you or the consequences you find yourself sitting in today, God can be found by you! The formula is simple and very straightforward. Sit with Him. Pray. Ask for forgiveness if need be. Repent. Listen. Search for Him. Ask why, read His words, run hard after Him.
In your disappointment.
In your tragedy.
In your sin.
And find Him. We often hear that He isn't the one who moves, we are. And here - right in scripture - God promises that we can find Him when we seek Him with all of our hearts. So why don't you try Him? I don't know about you, but He's the best thing I've got going right now.
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