In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet calls for the people of Israel to pray for the place where God has carried them into exile. Jeremiah 29:7 says, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Is that something you could do? You’ve been taken to a place where you didn’t want to go, and now, you’re being told you need to pray for that place. I don’t know about you, but I think I would find that difficult. I wouldn’t want to pray for a place I had been carried to against my will. I would want to get away from it as soon as possible.
I found it interesting though when I saw the chapter and verse reference the author had included with today’s devotion. Jeremiah 29 seemed familiar to me for another reason so I decided to look it up. I was right! A few verses later I saw three verses highlighted that are quoted often today especially for those graduating from high school or college. Verses 11-13 say, “‘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.'”
These verses, quoted to high school and college graduates, are close to where the Israelites were called to pray for their new city. In fact, the whole chapter is about the letter Jeremiah sent to the exiles. It makes me wonder how many people miss the first part to get to the second part.
Seven years ago, I was in a similar position. My husband and I were talking about leaving the city where we had only moved back to two years previously. I didn’t want to leave. It was everything that was familiar. We had met and married there. Our kids had been born there, and there were people there we loved and cared about. But, my husband had been unable to find work, so leave we did. We went to one place where he searched for work for about a month, and then drove back across the country to our new city where I only knew one person. It was scary, and several things happened right after we moved there which made my adjustment longer. I’ve written about these events before.
And now, it’s almost seven years later, and I can say I’ve adjusted to the part of the city I live in and the parts of the city I visit most often. I can get around pretty well with my phone (What did we do before cell phones?) and my familiarity with the city.
But, there are parts of the city I still don’t visit; parts where I wouldn’t want to be caught after dark, places where I’m not interested in going. Now, it might be said I’m just one person, and it’s okay if I’m not familiar with every part of my city, and it’s okay if I’m concerned with my safety. Aren’t we all?
The question that keeps coming back to mind though, after reading this devotion, is how am I serving my city. Am I praying for my city and not just rolling my eyes after the latest controversy? Am I seeking opportunities to serve? Am I doing my part in living out my faith in my city? I know I’m not doing any of that well enough, and I know I can do better. It’s all a part of my journey to becoming brave. Praying we can all be brave as we seek to serve in our own cities!
Praying God’s blessings on you all today!