When you’ve been a Christian for awhile, certain parts of the Bible become familiar. There are passages and specific verses we end up hearing or reading often. John 3:16 is memorized as a child and sometimes seen at public events. Psalm 23 is read at funerals. When you’re going through a tough time, a certain verse in Romans promises that God is working all things for good. And when you need guidance or are facing a change of any kind, Jeremiah 29:11 is a an oldie but a goodie. They are all amazing and true verses. They can just feel a little trite at times.
I am reading through a book of the Bible called Jeremiah. It’s about a man who was a messenger to God’s people years and years before Jesus came on the scene. The Israelites had a bumpy history with their God. They had seen God do wonderful things for them. They declared their love for God and yet seemed to fall away time and time again. Continual disobedience had brought on consequences and punishment. A bigger and stronger nation had taken them over. Carried away from their homeland, they were forced to live in Babylon.
I usually read a couple chapters of the Bible every morning and this particular morning I wasn’t paying attention to the chapter numbers. In chapter 29 of Jeremiah, God is instructing the people to go ahead and settle down in Babylon – to plant gardens, have children, and marry off children -they’d be there awhile. Then He promises to bring them back to their beloved homeland. This is where the “famous” verse comes into play:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD,
plans for welfare and not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope.
I was completely caught off guard! There it is! The popular verse, but in a whole new light. Those words were for a people who were facing a long wait in a foreign land. The promise seemed so far away and impossible. They would have to wait; they would have to trust.
God does have plans for us, too. He knows where we should go to college and whom we will marry. He guides us through big decisions and small, seemingly insignificant ones. We may see our problems as impossible and it feels we’ve waited forever for an answer. But a new thought has come to me. As I looked at my tree and the manger placed by it, could this verse be a reminder of the coming Christ child?
Ultimately, that little baby in a manger is the answer to everything! Jesus is the plan. He is our welfare and delivers us from evil. That little child in the manger is our future and hope.
It was so refreshing reading the verse in a new way. It was fun to come across the familiar – unexpectedly. Jesus drew near as I thought of Him and how everything – everything – points to Him. The little manger by my tree has a new meaning as I write today. He does have a good plan for us. And the plan has a name: Jesus. We may have to wait, just the like Israelites did. The way out of our problem or current situation may seem impossible. But there is a plan. And while it may be a long-awaited spouse, bonus money, or answer to a problem, the ultimate answer is always Jesus himself. Wait. Trust. He is coming!