Pastor David's Though for the Weekby Pastor David Alexander
During our Sunday evening Outdoor Worship service this past weekend, I shared that 2020 has turned into the year where I have run out of ‘adjectives.’
I also don’t really know how to even refer to the world that existed prior to the second week of March. I find myself wondering if a return to ‘that world’ is even possible, and at the same time, I continue to feel God’s Spirit pulling me away from my own longing for what once was.
Let me be the first to confess that I am not really happy with that leading of the Spirit!
Perhaps that’s simply our human nature. We gravitate towards what we know. Even an unknown future that may actually include immense possibility is still unsettling.
What is clear is that we are living in extraordinary times.
They are extraordinary in that they are outside our normal course of events, but also because - whether we like it or not - they are reshaping our understanding of what our future might be.
A favorite passage that I know many find meaningful comes from the prophet Jeremiah, chapter 29, verses 11-13.
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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
It is a beautiful expression of the hope we have in the face of uncertainty. These are words we should cling to when we are living in extraordinary times like these.
And yet… at the same time.. the larger context of verses 11-13 in Jeremiah 29 helps us to grasp what it really means to live in this hope.
Look first at verse 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.
Did you catch that?
Verse 10 does not undermine the promise of the verses that follow, but it does remind us that these words were originally shared with the Israelites who had been exiled from their homes by the Babylonians. And according to verse 10, their stay in Babylon was going to continue for quite some time.
But if we go all the way back to verse 5, listen to what God says to these heartbroken and homeless people,
Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.
Now, you might be thinking at this point that I’m ruining Jeremiah 29:11-13 for you. That’s certainly not my intent! But I do think there is something immensely profound here. I think seeing the larger perspective - particularly in what we read in verse 5, our hope actually becomes more concrete.
Hope becomes more than something we wait for, hope is something we work towards.
To those living in exile, I think this is God’s way of saying,
“Don’t sit around all day waiting for circumstances to change.”
“Do what you need to do to take care of one another.”
“You can sit in this uncertain time knowing that I have not abandoned you.”
Today, I want you to hear clearly the convictions that I believe God is growing within me in these extraordinary times.
God does have a plan for our future.
It will not be the same as what once was.
It will be more different than any of us can fully appreciate right now.
But right now, God is preparing us for that future.
The time spent living in these extraordinary days will not be wasted.
I look forward to sharing more about how God is using these days in the “State of the Church message I will be sharing in our Sunday morning online services this weekend at 9:30am and 11am.
And I hope you will join me Sunday Night at 6pm at our new parking lot for our second Outdoor Worship gathering.
You can find more information about this new addition to our weekend worship opportunities here on our website.