Well I can’t believe it! The Jeremiah study is finally out. A few people asked me if it felt similar to birthing a baby. I pondered that… but frankly, it didn’t really feel that way. When they put each of my children in my arms after laboring for many hours and carrying that child for many months, the moment was a high like few I have ever felt. This book from Jeremiah was an amazing journey of study, teaching, and writing like none I’ve never experiences. Seeing it through to publication has been amazing – don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled when some of you have texted me pictures of it arriving in the mail or standing in front of it on LIfeway shelves. I smile with Jesus at all He has done and that I get to be His typist and mouthpiece.
I guess the book feels different from childbirth because the labor was great fun – the writing, the study, and hearing from God so regularly! Laboring in childbirth didn’t resemble anything close to great fun! I remember thinking while laboring with my first child, “Did every mother really endure this and why did they ever have another child?” So the day the book baby was born – or at least when the first copies arrived on my doorstep, I saw the UPS driver appear through tears. Not tears of joy at the getting to hold the book in my hands, but tears from having come from an appointment with my daughter who was being measured for a new wig. Neither of us had anticipated what that would entail … uncovering to a stranger what she is only comfortable revealing to family and a few close friends. It pulled the scab off a wound, and we both wept together on the drive home over the losses she has experienced through alopecia.
While the book coming out is beyond exciting, the day it arrived was a day to remember the central theme of the words that it contains – we all need hope. Life is hard. We dare to hope not in circumstancial fixes – but in the steadfast love of an amazing God!
For the next six weeks I’m getting back on track with my blog and giving a short entry from the 6 themes of the Jeremiah study. I find even having taught this material many times, it still hits home with great relevance in whatever new challenge I find myself in. I pray you’ll enjoy these short Jeremiah lessons on Surrender, Counterfeits, Listening, Hurting Heart, Blame Games, and Ultimate Hope!
I pray this first one resonates in your life today!
When I was in junior high, my mom told me not to worry about popularity because once you leave high school, no one cares about that stuff anymore. Here in my forties well past junior high, I find it’s still an issue. I see it in the neighborhood. I see it at PTO meetings. I see it in the church. Women size each other up all the time. A blend of confidence, money, career success (your own or your husband’s), appearance, education, and experience (even in ministry) all contribute to your “status” in whatever social circles you run. If anything, it gets more complicated as you grow older. We are still trying to find the right “lunch table” at every stage of life.
In the book of Jeremiah, we quickly discover that God is not as concerned about our popularity as He is with our faithfulness to His message. In Numbers, the people of Israel were told to go in and take the Promised Land, but they chose to wander instead. In Jeremiah, we see that God gave a very different message to His people. He told them to surrender.
In our lives as well, the message of surrender is not as popular as the message of victory. We want God to fix our circumstances and tell us everything is going to work out fine. We want our money problems solved, our physical illnesses healed, our relationships simplified. While sometimes God chooses to intervene in those ways, other times He calls us to surrender. Ultimately He gives us victory through that surrender. He teaches us things, develops our character, and draws us close to Him through our struggles.
Through Jeremiah’s book of prophecy, we find that God is more concerned with our character than our comfort. He loves us too much to leave us in our complacency, our same old sin patterns, and our short sided vision that only sees things from a human perspective. He calls us to stop fighting against Him and surrender to His promises. He is crazy about us – His darling daughters (Jeremiah 31:20). He knows that surrendering to His plan even when we can’t make sense of our circumstances is the only way to true joy and contentment. All our busy rushing apart from Him ends in nothing. (Psalm 39:6)
God is often calling me to surrender to His way especially when life is hard and the last thing I want to do is surrender my pride and my power. Jeremiah 4:4 says, “O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power.” I often find God calling me to raise the white flag of surrender like this:
- Saying I’m sorry when God’s Spirit reveals that I’ve hurt someone with my words or behavior.
- Giving generously to my church or others when I want to keep the money to spend on myself.
- Getting up earlier so I can pray when all I want to do is sleep.
- Obeying Christ in an area that I know won’t be popular with my friends.
- Becoming involved in or stepping down from a ministry because God tells me to.
- Setting boundaries in relationships as God leads even when I know it might hurt someone I love.
So where is God calling you to surrender today? Is it a decision that has been nagging at you from the corners of your mind? Do you know it won’t be popular – with your kids, your friends, your coworkers? Raising the white flag can bring some anxiety, but surrendering to God’s leading is the place of genuine peace. Laying down our pride and our power brings hope as God blesses our obedience – no matter what lunch table we find ourselves at.
Prayer: God help me to surrender everything to you. I trust that your way is best even when it doesn’t make sense to me. Show me where I am hanging on to my pride and my power – I want to lay it all at your feet and follow your plan for my life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11