Every once in a while, you hear a sermon that you suspect was written specifically with you in mind. Like the pastor was looking into your heart and soul and saw what was there and crafted his words around that need. Like he saw your car turn into the parking lot and said to everyone, "Quick! They're here! Switch out the bulletins -- I need to preach this instead!"
Our family had that experience yesterday at Woodlands Baptist Church. The text Pastor Vickrey chose for his sermon was Jeremiah 29:4-7. Judah has been conquered by the Babylonians and the Israelites taken into exile. False prophets are popping up everywhere, telling the people, "Oh, this is just a short term thing -- two years tops. Then we'll be back home again. Don't get too comfortable."
But Jeremiah (who always seemed to have the thankless job of delivering the unpopular news) tells them otherwise:
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. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
You're going to be here a while, Jeremiah tells them, so God wants you to bloom where you're planted. Continue to live life in medias res -- in the midst of things.
My eldest is viewing this San Antonio stint as a parenthetical episode in her life. She has no intention of growing any roots, making any connections, allowing any attachments. Once she graduates in May, she wants to return to Iowa. And she may very well do so. But I had to fight the urge to sneak peaks at her during this sermon to see if she was listening closely.
God has put you here for a reason.
This place is a part of God's plan.
You are to live through life, not around it.
Even I find, as we strive to get settled and feel settled, that it's hard to shake that transient feeling. We spent the last year and a half in Sioux City knowing we were going to be leaving any time. We lived in the apartment temporarily this summer . . . even moved into a temporary hotel room for a few days . . . I wrote last fall about tent-living and how I could relate to that.
And as I wrote last fall, I'm all the more convicted that believers are always supposed to feel that transient way, in a sense. This is not our home. We are only passing through.
But in the meantime, we are to bloom where we are planted in medias res.