This past winter, Simon saw a packet of spinach seeds I had purchased, and asked if we could plant them. Right then. I had no intention of planting spinach seeds that day, but I do try to say yes to my boys’ [good] requests as often as I can. I changed the game-plan for the day that I had in my head (albeit begrudgingly), and he and I went about the work of moving compost and tilling soil and planting spinach seeds. At the end of the day, I was thankful that his little request had marked something off of my to-do list, that I might not have gotten to otherwise.
Fast forward to today, March 23. Our grocery store shelves are more bare than full, and we’re supposed to limit our trips outside of our home. You had better believe that each time I pick fresh spinach leaves from our backyard, I say a little prayer of thanks to God for the spurring from Simon to plant tiny spinach seeds those many days ago.
That leads me to our verse for today.
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters, find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.” This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 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 upon 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.”Jeremiah 29:4-6, 10-13
Now, what in the world does spinach have to do with Jeremiah 29?
Here’s a little backstory to set the stage. God’s people had been taken away from their homeland by force. They were not planning on being exiles. They found themselves with completely different routines, did not have access to the food they were used to, and they were scared of what the future held. Sound familiar? In these days of our coronavirus pandemic and subsequent quarantine, we can relate, at least a little bit, to these exiles.
And what were the words that our God had for them during this time?
- Settle. Even though their environment was not what they were used to, they were supposed to “make themselves at home.” God gave them this command because he could see what would happen after the exile, and he wanted them to be in a place to be ready for the things that were to come.
- Trust. God had good plans in store for his people, even in this difficult circumstance. It was going to last a little longer than they were hoping, but they were to keep their hope in his unfailing love for them.
- Seek. God promised that he would not be far off, but that he would be close to his people. He would hear their prayers. They would find him present with them, even in the tragedy.
Fast forward to today, March 23. Have you thought about how God can see what will happen after this pandemic? That thought alone brings me hope like nothing else. So, since he can see past this difficulty and this time of “exile” in ways that we cannot, perhaps we should heed these same commands he gave his people thousands of years ago.
Settle: What is God calling you to do now, that might bring a crop of abundance in the future? Maybe it is planting seeds of relationship with your neighbors, so God can work through you to reach them. Maybe it is being intentional with this extra time you have with your children, as a way of preparation for their next developmental stage. Maybe it is using your current margin to learn a new skill that the Lord desires to use in your future. Do the disciplined work of planting those seeds today.
Trust: God has good in store for us. God has given us a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:3-4) So in the midst of lost jobs, stock market plummets, and much uncertainty, this coronavirus cannot touch the hope and joy of our new life in Jesus!
Seek: God is so close to us during this time. He promises us that when we seek him, we will find him. How will you seek the Lord today? Rejoice that he can be found.