Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Comfort for the Stuck

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Jeremiah 29:11 

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.

Today we are back to the refrigerator verse collection. You know those verses that everyone loves and you often see on plaques, magnets and cards. We all to often see those verses standing all alone and out of context. So today I want to bother to look at the story surrounding Jeremah 29:11 It is part of a letter sent by the Prophet Jeremiah to the exiles of Jerusalem.  He is pretty much writing to tell them they need to make the best of their situaltion because they are going to be stuck there for the next 70 years. He tells them they need to build houses and plant gardens. Encourage their sons and daughters to marry so they can have their own children.  They are to seek the peace and prosperity of the place that they find themselves stuck in because as that place is at peace and prospering so will they.

There are sometimes things set in motion in our life that have to play out before God will release us from those obligations. For the people of Jerusalem God wanted them to know that although they had just gone through this horrific up-rooting from the life they had known. They had been taken in to captivity or exile in Babylon. Many of the so called Prophets were prophesying that this was all just a temporary thing and they would be back home soon. So who should they listen to in their situation?

They were in this place of exile because for a very long time as a people that had refused to listen to God. Their relationship with God had become a show at best and they were consumed with foreign idols and had taken on the ways of the cultures around them. God got to a place of having given them one opportunity after another to repent and change. To stop living life on their own terms and to start living life on His. They consistently refused to listen, to turn and repent. At some point God said enough and the army's swept in and the life they knew came to an abrupt end and now they found themselves in Babylon.  God is trying to tell them through Jeremiah that he has a good plan but they are stuck in their circumstances for the next 70 years. God may be saying that to you today as well. There are some yokes that we must submit to wearing and walking out. If we stop fighting those things and begin to make the best of them, we will begin to see what Jesus said in Matthew 11:30.  My yoke is easy and my burden is light. I particularly like it in the Message.  28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Is it time for you to "Get away with Jesus and to recover your life?"
Have you been fighting a circumstance that God seems un willing to release you from, though you have prayed and pleaded.  There are things in our life that sometimes we just can't do anything to change. While I believe God wants to give us the desires of our hearts, sometimes like the people of Jerusalem, we have to accept that we must now walk out the consequences of our long rebellion and refusal to draw close to the Lord. It is easy to blame everything and everyone around us for our troubles, when we need to accept that we have not really turned to God. In our pride we have turned to every other option to try and solve our problem and God is our last resort. He wants to be your first resort and He is still calling you to turn to Him and allow Him to help you to make the best of your situation. Allow it to work in you the heart changes He desires. Allow him to carry it with you. 
I, by no means, am saying that you should give up faith that God will heal and restore - it is more a question of how you will function in the mean time. For the exiles in Babylon it was 70 years that they could spend fighting God or they could accept their lot and make the best of it.
What about you?  Are you listening to God in this season or are you still trying to find the answers on your own? Turn to Him and submit to the yoke He has you in presently.

One of the nice things about a yoke is it keeps the oxen together. They have to cooperate if they want to get the job done and get back to the barn.  Your yoke circumstance, in many ways is doing the same thing. It is keeping you close to Jesus. You are learning in and through it, that you really do need to know Jesus and you do need to be learning to be led by the Holy Spirit.  Change your focus from trying to change your situation to learning to know Jesus better in it. In His time He will get you back to the barn and out of this present yoke. If you will stop fighting Him - and follow Him you will get through this much faster. He wants to help you carry the weight of this burden. He wants go with you step by step, day by day until the work in you is completed. Trust Him.

Dear Lord,
You know the places where I feel stuck, the burdens that I have been trying to bear on my own or only allowing you to partially help me with. Help me today to stop resisting you and to accept my present circumstance as a yolk that is keeping me close to you in this season. Help me to turn to you and to stop fighting you to get free, when you are wanting to use this to draw me close to you. I do thank you that your plans for me are good even when my time line does not match up with yours.
Today I choose to stop fighting you and I choose to trust you. Help me to know you more deeply because of this burden.

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