[I started writing this post in April 2015. It still feels appropriate for my life today, so I decided to add an ending and publish it.]
Some of my favorite verses in the Bible are found in Jeremiah 29. God speaks through Jeremiah to the Israelites who were in exile in Babylon. Most of us (North Americans) live with roofs over our heads, enough food to keep us healthy, and freedom to do as we please in the country where we were born. We are in no way in exile like the Israelites were, but sometimes I feel like I live in my own little exile away from where I should be.
I should have my own house by now. I should have a full-time job in communications. (That is what I went to school for, right?) I should be involved in ministry in Costa Rica. I should be doing more with my life.
But all these “should’s” are of my own imagination and my own planning because God’s “should’s” have me right where I’m supposed to be. Maybe my decisions (good and bad) helped lead me here, but nevertheless, God has me here for a reason, so here is most definitely where I should be for now.
Do you ever feel like you’re in exile? Like life should be more than what it is or different from how it is now? I’m often eager to change the way life is now or anxious for what God has “next,” but it’s important to remember that this is what God has for me now and this is just as important as what he has for my future. This time right now and where I’m at and what I’m doing now, these are the foundation for what he has later. What good is my future without the foundation?
Though the Israelites were in exile, the Lord encouraged them to keep on living their lives as they would if they were in Jerusalem. He tells them to build houses, to settle down, to garden, to get married and have children.
It’s important to remember in that no matter how much we feel away from where we’re supposed to be, we must keep on living instead of being so eager to get out of whatever situation we find less than desirable. God knows. He knows and he still has me here for a reason.
These sleepless nights, unending line of dishes that need washing, the vacuuming and sweeping and toilet cleaning and cooking and diaper changing… it’s important, too. It’s a season that sometimes feels like exile, but God is in this, too. He is here with me. (With us.) It’s not always glamorous, but it’s purposeful. It’s foundational.
But here’s the best part. God sees us and is here with us. Sometimes in this season of “exile” I feel like it will be easier to follow God when I have my own house. Then I’ll have my own space for reading my Bible and I won’t get so frustrated with other people for making a mess after I just cleaned up, and I won’t do this and I will do that. Or it would be easier to seek God if ____________ .
But that’s not how God works. Because he has me here for a reason and because this is where I should be. God had this promise for the Israelites that is still true for me:
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you…”Jeremiah 29:13-14
God said this to the Israelites while they were in exile. He didn’t say, “Seek me as soon as you’re out of exile and I will be found by you.” No, he said, “Seek me and I will be found.” Right here, right now.
In the place where he has me, he can be found. And he will be found. There are no conditions except that we seek with all of our heart.