Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - Figs with a Future

2013 has been a year of new beginnings for us - a year of hope. And on this bittersweet day when we mourn Steve's mom's passing from this world two years ago and celebrate her true homecoming into Jesus' arms it seems a good time for reflection on tough times, hope, and how God combines those two in such surprising ways.

My Bible study this morning (you know, the one-year chronological study that I'm one year and halfway through - oops!) brought me to Jeremiah and the often quoted Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
This is a verse that's easy to agree with. I mean, who doesn't want God planning a good, hopeful future for them?  I'm in!

But it's easy (convenient?) to forget that these words were for exiles.  Conquered people.  Losers. Sinners.

Jeremiah 29:11 isn't a rose-colored glasses verse about God making every road level and straight and easy for me, it doesn't promise constant happiness and satisfaction and popularity and wealth.  Jeremiah 29:11 is about hope in the struggle.  Hope in the turmoil. Hope in the hard place.

Back 5 chapters from this iconic verse, Jeremiah talks about an interesting vision God gave him about these same exiles:
The Lord gave me this vision. I saw two baskets of figs placed in front of the Temple in Jerusalem. In one basket there were fresh, just-ripened figs, but in the other the figs were spoiled and moldy—too rotten to eat. Then the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”

I replied, “Figs, some very good and some very bad.”

Then the Lord said: “The good figs represent the exiles sent to Babylon. I have done it for their good. I will see that they are well treated, and I will bring them back here again. I will help them and not hurt them; I will plant them and not pull them up. I will give them hearts that respond to me. They shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with great joy."
Woah. So let me get this straight.  The good figs, the blessed figs, the figs with "a future and a hope" are the prisoners of war in a foreign country? Not the path I would have chosen.  Yet for those figs in exile, it was directly through their experiences in a hard place at a hard time that God was planning to plant them, to make them his, and to give them great joy.

And this has been our 2013 experience. 

2013 has been a year where because of our challenges, not despite them, our family has been more firmly, more deeply planted in Christ and in each other.  Our hearts respond more readily to God.  And we return to Him and home day by day, week by week with great joy.

So we welcome the new year as figs with a future. Because we all need new starts - new years, new mornings, new lives - all found in the least expected, and often the hardest, places. Thanks you, Jesus, for providing as many new mercies and new compassions as I need!
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.
December - Christmas Tie Dyes
March - Bryce Canyon
February - Lunar New Year
May - Goblin Valley
August - Mt. Timpanogos
November - Solitude Resort
March - Bryce Canyon
October - Halloween
June - Colima, Mexico
April - Sasha's Birthday Party
February - Soldier Hollow
October - Dead Horse Point
July - The Narrows
April - U-Dig Fossils
May - Little Wild Horse Canyon
October - Halloween
February - WanYing's 2nd Gotcha Day Anniversary
June - Colima, Mexico
October - Moab
August - Wildflower Pedalfest
October - Dead Horse Point

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