There is hope for your future,” says the Lord. – Jeremiah 31:17a
Jeremiah lay asleep in bed and had a dream from the Lord, where God told him about the coming return of Israel and Judah to the promised land of the patriarchs. The dream spoke of how Israel and Judah had done great and terrible things against God and how they had turned their backs on God for the most part. However, God told the prophet that He loved Israel and would never stop loving them and defending them. The Master of the universe said that there was a hope for Israel’s future in a time when He would create a new covenant with them that would be written upon their hearts rather than tablets of stone.
Greetings, one and all. It’s been some time since my last posting, but it is germane to the topic of today’s devotion. For several months now, I have been in a serious spiritual funk that has clouded my judgment, my thoughts, my actions, and even my words. I felt like there was no hope left for quite some time. Every turn I made whether to look for new employment to reconciling with my former spouse to continuing in the ministry seemed to come to an abrupt halt with no prospect of change or hope in sight. The road took an immediate left turn into a dark alley that ran smack dab into a brick wall! The rejection of possible future employers at every turn and the seemingly cricket-laden sounds of nothingness regarding a restored marriage to a lovely woman and sister-in-Christ drove me to the brink of insanity and thoughts not to be shared publicly.
People all over the place were praying for me and standing with me through this epic time of stupidity on my part. Thank God for their love and support. (You all know who you are!) Others told me that I was just being selfish and self-centric and trying to fill the part of my heart that only God could do with a new job or my ex-wife rather than trusting in God to alleviate the self-induced plight from which I suffered. I looked at those people in all sincerity and honesty and told them to silence their diatribe. I explained to them that unless they’d been there and done that, then don’t spew off at the mouth things of which they knew not! Life had become unbearable for me. Not only was the rejection a factor, but I found myself at work disliking everything around me to the point that I didn’t even care if I remained employed or not. The joy once experienced of rising in the morning and going to work had faded to black. The company’s practices and policies in certain matters had only added to the dilemma and now insanity that called itself work.
Recently, though, my pastor shared in a sermon a period of time not so many years ago where he’d been in a spiritual funk if you will. He had come to a point where he’d reached a sort of stagnation in his relationship – a numbness of the soul. He decided in his heart and mind that there had to be something more than what life had surrounded him with and the pattern of routine to which his existence had become. His story resonated within me like a cannon being fired from a 155mm Howitzer at an enemy force. I identified with his related moment from his life. His desperation to know more of God than what had been and what continued to be drove him to the point of getting alone with God and not emerging from his seclusion until he’d found the answer he desired so urgently.
Well, I have taken that message to heart. Having renewed my spiritual disciplines again in seeking out our Heavenly Father in prayer and the wonderful privilege of reading the Holy Scriptures from which Dad speaks to me! I, too, am taking a position of humility in which I have determined in my heart and mind that I am not going to forsake the God of my childhood, who loves me more than any person including my departed mother and can provide for me far better than any corporation or association or firm. God is my El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty! He’s Jehovah Jireh, the LORD God my provider! He’s Jehovah Shalom, the LORD God my peace! He’s Jehovah Raphe, the LORD God my healer! He’s Jehovah agape, the LORD GOD my unselfish love! (I made that one up, but it’s true!) [I did fail to mention earlier that my health had deteriorated recently through knee problems, aggravation of old wounds, and a broken digit. These just piled onto the misery from everything else at hand.]
God spoke twice to Jeremiah about Israel/Judah and his plans of hope and blessing for their future. Well, his promise wasn’t just for the people of Israel in that day but for us too! He is the God who doesn’t change! If he has a bright future for Israel and her people, then he has a bright future for me too. Paul said that Jesus is our Blessed Hope! I choose from this day forward to seek out the LORD as did my pastor and not emerge from a time of prayer, fasting, and daily communion with God until I know that there is more to life and my relationship with God than what has been! I want to walk in his glory daily! I want to know Him as much as is humanly possible in this life! He has written upon my heart the new covenant he promised his people!
I write all this because the enemy wanted me to believe that there was nothing for me to live for anymore. The pain of past relationships, the pain of injuries, the pain of rejection and loss of self-worth, and the pain of separation from God because of my lackadaisical attitude recently were the things the enemy pounded me with day and night. It drove me into the deepest depression which I’ve ever experienced. I had entertained thoughts of self harm, but God had people looking out for me, praying for me, and loving on me. Just when it looked like that I would never have another employment opportunity other than where I currently work, God reminded me that he is my source and provision, not the job. Just when it looked like no one wanted me as a companion, God reminded that he sticks closer than a brother and is the lover of my soul and loved me so much to pay a debt I could not pay. Just when it looked like my body was racked with physical ailments and delimited function, God reminded me that he is the LORD God who heals me by his stripes suffered upon the cross. The facts may point to things of despair and hopelessness, but the Truth (the way and the life) says that I’m healed, loved, cared for, and have a future of hope and his blessing!!
Father, thank you for loving me and blessing me with a future and hope for tomorrow. You’re the greatest! Without you, I am nothing. The blinders of depression and despair have been lifted from my eyes, and the enemy is now looking scared and wobbling in the knees. He knows that now that I know that there is nothing that can stop me from completing the mission in life to which you’ve assigned me, look out! NOT by my power or might but by your Spirit will I obey and do all you’ve told me to do. First, I start by loving you with all my heart and soul to be followed by loving my neighbor as myself. THEN, I will go and make disciples of those who heed your call and baptize them in your name as well as Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Greater are you, who live in me, than the enemy that lives in the world. He can take away my things, my loved ones, and even my job, but he can’t take me away from you nor me away from you! Hell has been put on notice. Too many people have said to me for a long time that hell dreads the day that I wake up spiritually and begin to do the work of the Father. Well, look out world, that day is today! From here on in it’s all about Dad! Let’s go kick some serpent tail and repopulate heaven with souls once thought to be bound for hell! IN Jesus’ name, Amen.