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Tuesday Thoughts 10-16-18

There’s no getting away from the change of seasons…it snowed enough to gather on things yesterday. Even though it was quickly gone, the woeful chorus of laments have been fueled into full swing!  It kinda tickles me to hear all the complaints about the coming cold and snow-cover, since I’m a winter lover.  But I can relate to your pain around May when the heat and humidity are on their way and you’re cheering.  In either case, we’re confronted with the two extremes of “complain and endure”, or “embrace and enjoy”.  While it is likely that complaints will always accompany our preference-opposite (reality check), attitudes and actions that embrace what cannot be escaped (another form of reality check) will make it more enjoyable.  For instance, though you might not ever be able to bring yourself to go out and ski, snowshoe, or go sledding, you can enjoy hot cocoa, a snuggly blanket, and a roaring fireplace, all brought about courtesy of winter.  Of course, here in an example in our physical world, we find a spiritual principle at work (God does that on purpose!).  We move in and out of seasons and events that either compliment or conflict with our preferences.  When in a time of challenge (or frustration and disappointment, if you prefer), it is common to look for “escape scripture” like Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  I see your heads nodding, and I feel your determination to hunker down and endure until those plans start happening.  You’ve may even have recently shared this verse with someone who was hurting. But wait, something is missing!  These words relayed from the Creator to his people through a prophet were spoken in a context we often ignore.  They came to a people who had been taken captive from their homeland.  Religious leaders were telling them that their return home was just around the corner, but Jeremiah was relaying a different message right from the mouth of God, “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare…This is what the LORD says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.” Jeremiah 29:5–7, 10 (NLT).  In these words, given right before our favorite verse, the truth is declared; “A season has come, and you should fully live in it!”  The season is as much a part of the plan as the return home that would come seventy years later.  The cause of this time of captivity (a centuries-long disobedience) is not the relevant issue here.  The seasons and events we face will come.  If not caused by our own bad choices, it will be because of the bad choices of others, or the broken condition of our world, but they will come.  What is relevant (and extremely helpful) is that Jesus, God in the flesh, has a purpose in each season or event.  If you want to miss the growth-lessons and provisions from the One who knows you best, all that is needed is complaining, enduring, and wrestling for “freedom” (self-defined).  But if you want the plans of the Lord, embrace the moment, live in today!  Start by asking the Holy Spirit to identify one area of complaint.  Surrender those complaints to God and pray for his purposes to be revealed and you’ll be building into his plan for your future and hope!

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