When I was 18 years old, I attended an event at Manhattan Christian College called Timothy Days. At this event, you go through an interview process to try to prove that you’re worthy of a pretty large scholarship. In preparation for the interview, I was told, by a current student, to have a Bible verse picked out in case they asked me what my favorite one was. Without hesitation, I assured her I had a verse picked out.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for a hope and a future.
Did I mention I was 18? I loved this verse so much I even decorated my high school graduation cap with it. Haha Man, I wish I could find a picture to show you!
At 18 years old every one of my prayers was practically begging God to give me direction in life. Where am I supposed to go to school? What do I want to do with the rest of my life? Do you see a common theme in the questions I was asking?
I — I was making it all about ME. My obsession with my future was hindering the ministry God was calling me to in that season of life.
In Jeremiah 29, God was speaking to the Israelites who were under Babylonian rule. I want to zoom out from verse 11 and gain a little more context from verses 10-14.
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.”
I notice a few things while reading these few verses.
- God was asking them to wait 70 years. (Um. that’s way longer than I ever want to wait for anything.)
- In verse 12 He says, then you will call on ME and come pray to ME and I will listen to you. 13, You will seek ME and find ME when you seek ME with all of your heart. 14, I will be found by you.
So, I really want to focus on my second observation. For some reason I am tempted to take a verse like Jeremiah 29:11 and turn it into something it’s not. No where in this verse or passage does God promise the Israelites (or me) success, fortune or a life without hardship. No. The fact that His plans are always for my good does not necessarily mean they are going to fall under my definition of ‘good’. The hope and future He is talking about is the hope of the world, his son, Jesus Christ. Our future is eternity. We can choose, an eternity with God in heaven or eternal hell.
If this is your life verse, I am honestly not trying to rain on your parade. I am trying to give you some perspective. This is still one of my very favorite passages but not for the same reasons that it used to be. Here’s why,
If I seek Him with my whole heart, I will find Him.
While God does not promise me a life without struggle, He does promise me that when I call on His name, he will be there to listen to me. I will be able to find Him. This is so comforting to me. Our God is so relational but He doesn’t want to force himself on us. We have to be willing to seek him with our whole hearts. We have to be willing to put in the work.
Jeremiah 29:11 is not about me and what I deserve because I call myself a christian. This passage is a comfort to me because I am nothing, yet my creator makes Himself available to me when I most need Him. When, like the Israelites, I am stuck in captivity.
Ultimately, God’s plans for me are for His glory, not my own.
This is a tough concept for me to grasp. Maybe it’s because I’m not a mother yet and so I have never had to put another life entirely before my own. You could also say what you want about me being a millennial. But, I would guess that to some extent you can relate to having to fight against a selfish attitude. It’s a tough pill to swallow learning that it’s not all about you. In a culture that speaks the exact opposite, it’s easy to forget that God’s main objective is not to make you happy.
In this season of my life, God is drilling me with this idea. It’s been months and months and I continue to struggle with this concept. I would think that by now I could move on, but sadly, I have been so stuck in this way of thinking that God is having to work hard to get through to me. I go back and forth between feeling discontent about this season and hearing God speak, “Sagan, I have you hear now. It’s not about you. I want you right here. How are you living to bring me glory?”
Once our minds begin to grasp the idea that this is ALL for His glory, we will slowly feel the pressure lift from our shoulders. This is not about me & that is a freeing feeling! I do not have to love my job right now because my main objective in life is not to be happy at work, my main objective is to bring glory to God.
Now, I am not saying that God wants me to be miserable. No, quite the opposite. However, God is asking me to do what he would ask me to do in any season of life, give Him glory.
So, I want to challenge you with these thoughts.
Are you living your life, in your current circumstances, whatever that might look like, for His glory?
Do you care more about your name being known than His name being known?
Are you waiting for your ‘future’ to bring Him glory?
If you are currently in a season of life where you are so anxious about your future or life circumstance that you are clinging to Jeremiah 29:11 because you honestly don’t know what else to do, I want you to hear me say this:
Reach out to Jesus. He wants to love you through this. He is available to you through seasons of confidence and seasons of doubt. Seek Him with your whole heart. Do not be so stuck on “the hope for your future” that you are missing the call that God has placed on your life right now, in the circumstances you find yourself in today. He wants to use you now. The future we get to look forward to is eternity with God, and that my friends is going to be worth every single second of struggle we experience on this Earth x 10000000.
I am always so encouraged when people who have connected with my words reach out to me. The truth is, when I write these posts, I am not coming from a place of expertise. I am usually trying to convince my heart of the same words I am speaking to you. If you read my blog regularly you are probably starting to pick up on this reoccurring theme. If you connected with any of these words, I would love it if you would reach out to me. Leave a comment below or on social media. Send me an email or text message. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for listening to my ramblings!
be encouraged friends.
Such good encouragement, Sagan. I was just reading in my devo this morning a reminder that there are 24 hours in each day and every one brings a unique set of circumstances. I think I try to force what I think is important into my day rather than noticing what God has prepared for me. Each day of my life is precious. Thanks for this great reminder to live in the present.
Yep. I can totally relate to that! Glad you were encouraged! Love you!
Sagan — thank you for your words of encouragement. 10 months ago my family was pulled apart by circumstances we can no longer control. Facing the ‘wait’ is heavy. Knowing in the ‘wait’ people will die. Life will go on for others. There will be happiness and sadness that our family will experience a part. This heaviness was lifted, for a few moments, when it dawned on me, that I can continue to seek after God. He will be found. This plan wasn’t my plan but His. He is God, even in this.
Like you, I feel the movement of the world and wonder if I am behind. Should I be doing more? Or is it less that I should be doing? Do I pray? or do I move? The comfort your message brought to me will continue to comfort when the realities of waiting are hard,and easy.
Again, Thank you for sharing your heart. God is using you and all your seeking for His glory.
Wow, Jamie, thank you for this comment. I’m encouraged to hear that in your time of ‘waiting’ you are choosing to seek God and His presence. Your story of faith has encouraged me today. Thank you for sharing.
I absolutley adore this post! i just commented about how important Jeremiah 29:11 is to me in my life journey and each concept you focus on truly resonates within my heart. Such an encouraging post! One of my faves!
I absolutley adore this post! I just commented on another post saying how important Jeremiah 29:11 is to me! The different concepts that you focused on truly resonate with me as I am journeying through life. Thank you for your blog post; truly blessed! One of my fave posts!
Thank you for the kind comment! I’m so glad you can resonate with some of my words!