We finally got our orders.
And I confess, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the destination.
Yes, I know God goes before and prepares a place and has a perfect plan.
But we’re so far from where we were trying to go. We’ll be distanced from a lot of things actually. Cut off from the familiar military community we’ve grown to love. None of the support systems and services we’ve grown dependent upon will be available to us. No commissary or PX. No base or fort. No quarters and a very limited number of rental properties in town. No PWOC. In fact, my husband will be the only active duty soldier.
It feels more like being exiled than assigned.
In truth, a whole lot of life’s situations feel that way when I focus on any one specific aspect. But when I look back at the entirety of my life, I have 16 moves worth of memories I can call on to help me make sense of what God might be up to.
Scripture can be like that, too! We must look at the context of a passage to truly understand the meaning behind the words. One of the most quoted verses in Scripture is:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Comforting words indeed. But did you know God spoke these words to Israelites exiled in Babylon after King Nebuchadnezzar’s army destroyed Solomon’s Temple and Jerusalem? Soldiers carried those who did not die off into a foreign land where God would keep them for 70 years before compelling King Cyrus to allow them to return and rebuild Jerusalem.
It is easy for my heart to hold on to the promise of hope and a future in heaven, but my head still wonders what to do during these days that feel like exile. Lucky for me, God has some instructions in the preceding text.
“Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
God tells those exiled in Babylon, where customs are strange and the native people are less than hospitable, to build, plant, multiply, and seek the welfare of that city.
- We may not build a house where we are headed, but we can establish a home with a strong foundation on Jesus that serves the Lord.
- We may not plant crops, but we can spread seeds of faith in this new territory.
- Our physical family may not grow in number, but we can seek to increase the family of God.
- We can certainly seek and pray for the welfare of the next place God plants us, even when it feels foreign.
No matter where Army orders send us, the truth is we are all in exile here on earth, because our real home is in heaven. But just like those Israelites exiled in Babylon, God wants us to live abundantly while we are here.
Immediately following Jeremiah 29:11, we find the key to discovering the good plans God has for us when we feel exiled.
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with your whole heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”
When what we see looks like exile in a foreign land, we seek God. He is close even when we feel far from everything we know. He never changes, even when our circumstances do. When we seek Him, He promises to be found. When I look for what God is doing wherever orders send us, I discover my true assignment – to build, plant, grow, and pray.
When we feel like we’ve been exiled, we seek God to find our true assignment. That is how we go ALL IN, wherever God and the Army send us.
Liz Giertz is a Veteran turned Army wife and mom to two boisterous boys and one shelter dog who provide endless writing material. Until the next set of orders arrive, they call FT Hood, Texas home. She is passionate about encouraging women to overcome MESSES, embrace MEMORIES, and become the MASTERPIECES God created them to be. You can connect with her on her blog, My Messy Desk, as well as on Facebook, and Twitter.