4 Oct 2014

an arc of Eternal Goodness ....{Jeremiah cont'd}

There is a arc of goodness that stretches and covers our days.

Every day then is about seeing and linking back to this arc so that the flood waters of daily life don't become a deluge and we get drowned in our moments and movements.

Today, I arrive at chapter 29 with the prophet Jeremiah. It is familiar; and so I must step back and read it all the more carefully if I want to truly listen.....

Twenty-eight chapters of anger, grief, judgment and appeals later, the clouds seem to part a little and we trace more clearly the arc.

So what You are saying is that -
my feeling removed, far away, cut off, abandoned and forgotten... that was good for me - because - I will cry out and I shall discover You again -

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to me, and i will listen to you. And you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you...and I will bring you back from your captivity.." ~ Jeremiah 29v11-14
These famous words we love to quote are preceded by a clear statement of God's plan and timetable:

"after seventy years are completed..I will visit you and perform my good word toward you and cause you to return to this place".

Nothing random about it.

For the people of Judah, the exile was a necessary disciplinary act of God towards their persistent rebellious ways. Can I say this? We forget too quickly when we quote Jer 29v11 that it is spoken in the context of this discipline. The way we tell our kids,

"I want you to stay here in the naughty corner until you are ready to play properly."

Yes, we forget God sometimes will, must, and does, discipline us.

What is harder as I read is this: God expects us to accept the discipline; to trust Him through it. Jeremiah was constantly pitted against a bunch of other prophets who were telling the people good stuff they wanted to hear. God repeatedly says, "I did not send these prophets. They are prophesying lies." Ouch!

Perhaps we need to accept that a brother or sister has to bring us some tough news at times.

And then we come to verse 11-14. The discipline - an exile - being cut off from all that is familiar, feeling lost, being second-class citizens... going through what one simple cannot reconcile could happen to a child of God ---  stand firmly under the arc of God's goodness.

Jeremiah is churning my spirit up!

Being God's child is not a badge. Some Christians alas seem to flaunt it! I have seen smug Christians who talk like they've got everything figured out; and it borders on offence. {wait, I think I was the smug Christian before}.

No folks, God's Mercy and Grace are specific instances of His Goodness at work in our lives to draw us to a holy union with Him. But we are often unfaithful as Judah was. We have so many other gods we depend on and cling to.

So God uses an experience of immense dislocation - an exile - to break us free from our bondage.

The old spiritual fathers and mothers have this word 'detachment' to describe the process over our lives where we recognise our smaller gods and are set free from our dependence on them. May very few of us need a disciplinary encounter of being so shaken because only that will free us... Rather, may our maturity be more like a shedding of leaves {see my book Shed Those Leaves}; where a fake, insecure outfit that never anchors us is sloughed off to reveal a strong, solid soul being formed by God's hand.

Either way, we live under the arc - of Eternal Goodness.

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