Yellow means caution. Proceed carefully. Caution tape and yellow traffic lights remind us to slow down and pay attention. I need these wake-up calls because sometimes I just get moving through life at a break-neck pace and forget what’s important. Do the laundry, drive the kids around, command the calendar, check in with friends, help my husband, mop the floor, and then get up tomorrow and start all over again. I need a yellow light as I’m racing through life to say, “Slow down and pay attention!”
I got one of these wake up calls last winter while driving. Instead of a caution light – I got a caution bump. I had just dropped my girls off at a school activity and was on my way home. I had earlier dumped out my purse on the passenger seat frantically looking for something I needed at a moment’s notice. On the drive home I was stopped at a red light and leaned over to put things back in my purse. I felt a huge jolt as my van bumped into the minivan in front of me. I slammed the brake down hard, backed up, and went to talk to the woman in front of me. Thankfully, there was no damage to either car, but as I finished the short drive home I was a little shaken. How could my foot have let up on the brake without me even realizing it? I was so caught up in my task that I slowly let the car slide forward without even being aware of what I was doing. I laughed with God about what He has been driving home to me through the book of Jeremiah: I need to pay attention to really important things (like keeping my foot on the brake) instead of letting a small distraction (my purse contents) put me in danger of hurting myself and others. This is so true in my spiritual life. The minutia of day to day life and the tyranny of the seemingly urgent things put me in danger of missing the important things God has planned for me.
I believe God gives us yellow lights and sometimes big bumps in life to wake us up from minutiae. Our enemy would like nothing more than to keep us busy and living in the details and forget what’s important. It’s crazy to me how relevant the book of Jeremiah has become for me. I know its a little off the beaten path. It seems more like a topic for theologians than ordinary women. However, God has asked us to study these prophets. No, really – He invites all women with faith in Christ (okay and maybe men too!) to know and study about Him in the prophets. In Peter’s second letter he writes to those “who share the same precious faith.” Peter goes on to tell how he heard God speak right out of the sky, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” He then follows with “Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place – until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophets own understanding or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:19-21)
Christ calls us to have great confidence in the message of the prophets and this includes Jeremiah. He said their writings are like a light, maybe even a yellow light of caution. In my future blogs, I’m going to be sharing about seven cautions from the book of Jeremiah. We’ll explore the recurring themes in the message God gave him to speak to the people of Israel that are still relevant to us today. They were yellow lights repeated many times throughout the book. Unfortunately, the message was not a popular one and Jeremiah’s warnings were not heeded by the people. My prayer is that we will not be like these people. I pray that God’s timeless truths from this ancient book will jolt us into taking a careful look at our lives as we slow down and examine where we might be off course.
As believers under the New Covenant of grace, I sometimes veer away from books like Jeremiah as they were written before Christ and for the Israelite people. However, I know God Himself has not changed. His character and the cautions He gave the people of Israel during the time they were led into captivity give us a glimpse of what He is like and His heart for people. In Matthew 5:17-19, Jesus said, “I didn’t come to abolish the writings of the prophets, but to accomplish their purpose.”
I hope as we look at Jeremiah’s cautions for life in an unstable world, we will see the undercurrent of hope. Jesus offers us life and peace amid the daily trials that wear us down. After all, it is here, tucked in the middle of the longest book of the Bible, that we find great words of hope. “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 I pray that no matter what today brings our way, we will choose His hope.