My City

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!

Something Better

I tried to look in my post archives earlier to see if I had written something similar to this recently, but WordPress or my Internet service (not sure which) were being stubborn, and I couldn’t find anything. I think this might have been God’s way of telling me I needed write about it anyway so that’s what you’re gonna get today. 🙂

Most of us like to look at Facebook memories, right? Things we posted a year ago, two years ago, and so forth and so on. In one of my memories from a year ago, I read about how I was excited about something I had finally gained the courage to try. It was bittersweet to read that today because it didn’t work out for a number of reasons.

Didn’t work out. I’ve used those words for many things during my life. Sometimes, I’ve been happy to use those words, like when things would have ended up being more difficult than I had thought. But, other times, I’ve been sad to use those words, like today.

There’s been a meme with this quote going around Facebook that I think is appropriate to share here. Said by Thomas Edison. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This certainly applies to the things I’ve tried, but not succeeded at. There have been many ways that haven’t worked for me over the past few years.

This was brought into sharp focus for me yesterday. My son and I went to watch the football game his youth group was playing in honor of the Super Bowl. He wasn’t participating because football has never been a big thing in our home. We are more of a baseball family. Anyway, I told him we needed to try something different so we went to watch. It was interesting. Fun too. But, as I observed the game, I realized something. We are about to age out of youth group (He’s a junior.), and the parents and teens left in the group will have a lot more in common. A sad, but realistic observation. And also, an observation, I think, as to why I’ve been floundering. I don’t feel like I fit…anywhere, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do once I have an empty nest. I’m working on some ideas, but nothing has been solidified which makes me nervous. I don’t want to get to the point where I’m pressuring either of my sons to give me grandchildren. That’s not fair to them or to me. God gave me a mind to use, and it shouldn’t be dependent on fulfillment through anyone else.

But, the fact remains that I will have an empty nest in a little over a year, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. This brings me full circle back to the things I haven’t succeeded at during my life. I’ve been a mother and a wife for so long that other titles don’t come easily. The desire is there though. A desire to have something of my own. A desire to leave something of myself behind that is not just related to my being a wife or a mother. Something I might do at church or in the community or with employment.

Since the desires I’ve had so far haven’t succeeded yet, it would be easy to get discouraged. It’s hard to think that I’ve failed at things I thought God was calling me to do. God led me to some verses in Scripture that encouraged me. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

In Verse 7 of the same psalm, the psalmist says, “I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.”

And with these verses, something has become clear. I need to praise God through the failures and through the pain. The toughest thing in the world to do. But, God is teaching me through the failures, and it will lead to something better as long as I stay in His will. Help me, God, and help us all as we seek to listen to your voice.

God’s blessings on you all today!