Tuesday, January 29, 2008

on jeremiah

I have been wanting to write for several days. But sometimes words are tricky, and sometimes they are fleeting. They are hard to capture in the right moments, and even harder to spell out in black and white. And even if you catch them, they might not mean to anyone else what they mean to you.

God is good.

I have lived a lot of different lives, beautiful and heart-wrenching. My eyes have seen places beautiful and foreign. My spirit has been defiant sometimes, rebelling for the sake of being different; trying new things only for the sake of not following everyone else. Crying out when the world is silent, and sometimes being silent when the world is crying out for me to speak. I have fought with all that’s in me to find a path that is for me, a story that I can call my own, and a faith and a spirituality that is unique and personal.

But no matter which road I find myself at the end of, those words ring truer than anything I have ever known. God is good. Whether I find myself on a mountaintop or on my knees at the end of the day, I’m coming to find that He is good. That He has always been good. That my efforts to be self-sufficient are fruitless for a reason. I was made to love, and be loved by Him. I was made to seek after Something bigger than myself… bigger than worldly aspirations, relationships, alcohol or sleepless nights.

Lately I have been trying to follow through with one of my resolutions for this year. To dwell in scripture. To breathe it in, and exhale it. To rest in it. To let it ring true. The last few days I have been in Jeremiah, and it is changing me. When I think of the God of the Old Testament, I usually think of fire and thunder and might; of jealous love and righteous anger. To be honest I get nervous around that image of God; I would rather think of the storyboard characters made of felt that I grew up with in Sunday School, with sheep that were disproportionate to the shephards, and that sort of thing. It’s more comforting to my superficial soul sometimes.

Jeremiah is about a love affair.

In our culture people think that it’s weird being passionately in love with God. It’s a foreign concept for a lot of reasons. What I have read so far, is all about God chasing after the Israelites, in spite of their unfaithfulness. He gives the prophet Jeremiah words to give to the people of Israel, and they are heart-wrenching. At first I read quickly over the paragraphs, not really soaking it in at all. But when I dug deeper into how deep His love runs for His people, my heart broke with His. Not because I have been wronged that intensely, but because it’s the same thing I do to Him in my own life.

I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride,
how you followed me into the wilderness.
(2:5) What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me,
and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?
(2:27) For they have turned their back to me, and not their face.
But in the time of their trouble they say, “Arise and save us!”
but where are your gods that you made for yourself?
Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble;
for as many as your cities are your gods, O Judah.
(3:1) You have played the whore with many lovers;
and would you return to me?

Those are the words that resonated with me the most. I chase after things that are temporary and worthless so often in life. I give up what is eternal to embrace what is momentary. I make idols out of materialism, and relationships, and money. I juggle priorities around to fit what feels convenient. Yet so often I am faithless like Israel, turning my head back around to ask God why He hasn’t shown up. I ask Him to hold me, and wonder why I get nothing. I have my back turned to him, and wonder why I’m not receiving comfort.

I think the most beautiful part of this story is that I know the ending.

(29:11) For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.

I will be found by you… those words are so powerful. It is possible to find peace and joy and relationship with God. Some people spend their whole lives searching for those things, wondering why no other spiritual substance seems to satisfy. Wondering why the human caress or praises of men don’t fill them up inside; seeking fulfillment and uncovering emptiness. But I’m so happy it doesn’t have to be that way.

God is good. And I want to find Him. If nothing else, that is what I am discovering lately.

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