I don't recall asking to live. I have no recollection that I chose the parents with which I came to live, nor the place on earth where I was to live. I planned my children and yet had no control over who they would really be, nor if girl or boy.
Sometimes we feel "trapped" into the life we live. Sometimes we thoroughly enjoy our life, and sometimes we would change it if we could.
We hold faith in a belief that God makes many choices for us and we must trust that He knows the plan He has designed, that it is intentional and born of His love for us.
Upon finding myself with 5 children and one income, I quickly understood that I must be a double job holder.
The medical field was my profession and while I would never choose any other primary position, I reasoned that a commercial cleaning service would fit nicely with my schedule. Twenty five years later I was still sandwiching my varied skills into the day at hand.
I had a customer for several years who had a daughter named Katie. I had been cleaning at that home for about three years. Katie was now a five year old child of a perfectionist type personality, and a sweet demeanor. However, on the day of which I speak, Katie stood with arms folded, an angry scowl on her face, and she was simply glaring at me.
I was surprised. I asked her, in front of her mother who was also in the room, "What's wrong Katie?" Katie said not a word, she continued to hold the same 'how dare you position' staring angrily at me with apparent disgust.
Katie's mother then chimed in to ask Katie what was her problem. Katie answered her mother saying, "I don't like Mamona anymore." Her mother and I were mildly shocked, and perhaps her mother more than I. "Why?" asked her mother, "What has Ramona done to you, why don't you like her anymore?"
I had not a clue. For certain I had done nothing to Katie, so I was wide-eyed in suspense to hear what she would say. She answered, "Mamona messes up our house!"
This was the day that I had designated to move all the Den furniture out from the walls to clean both behind and underneath the furniture. Katie did not appreciate that I had replaced everything into its original positions; she felt disturbed that I had the audacity to "move" anything; to her, it was an invasive action to which I was not privileged.
The fact is that in the course of our lives, we all get our furniture moved about by the Lord, because He needs to clean out some dirt. It can be very disturbing if we do not understand what He is doing and why He is doing it, and often we are clueless. It can seem to us to be unkind and invasive, but then, even as it was my job at Katie's home, it is the Lord's work which He does in our lives as well.
The Lord's reason and privilege are of a higher and purer motive than were mine at Katie's home. I did my work with loving concern, but I was there by contract and performed my work for pay. The Lord does His work in our lives because He loves us intensely and He knows the presence of the dirt of sin will destroy us, so He must move some things around and do some cleaning.
In today's Lectionary Lesson Jeremiah, chapter 29, we read the continuation of what had been happening with the Israelites for considerable time.
No doubt that the people were confused about the message from God because on the one hand Jeremiah was telling them that God was saying this, and another prophet, Hananiah was saying, "NO!" God is saying that.
It was not different in those days than it is today, we continue to have "false prophets" who lead people away from God and cause them to rebel against the will of God.
Today we have less excuse than did they, because we have very available to us a full and written Word of God, called the Holy Bible; if we fail to read it and to learn what it says, we also can be deceived and fail to do as God requires.
Don't depend on the preacher, or prophet, or teacher, to tell you. Each of us must know the Word of God well enough that when anyone ministers a message from the Word we are able to discern whether it is accurate or not accurate.
In Israel it had gotten down to short and serious time, and so God told Jeremiah to tell Hananiah that he would die within that year because he was causing the children of Israel to rebel against God. It became apparent who was the real prophet of God when Hananiah died that year.
Here was the dispute: Israel had been sinning in God's sight and He had told them that He was sending them into captivity into Babylon. He was sending them away from their homes and from their land. Hananiah did not want that to happen, therefore he prophesied against it saying that "God would not do that kind of thing." The people of course wanted to believe the "good" story.
We have people today who continue to say that, "My God would not do a thing like that because He is a God of love;" but they obviously have not read the Scriptures and so they do not perceive that God will move anything anywhere if He needs to clean our lives of sin, because sin will kill us and He wants us to live. That, "God is love, " is correct, but how we interpret His acts of love may sometimes be erroneous.
Just as Jeremiah had spoken by God's assignment, it happened, the Children of Israel were taken captive into Babylon. God did not send them there however, without instructions about what they were to do, nor without a promise that after a period of time He would bring them back to their place of origin. He told them it would be seventy years.
God's instruction to them about how to live are as follows: *build houses and live in them, *plant gardens and eat what they produce, *take wives, get married, have children, * give your daughters in marriage also so that you may increase and not diminish (don't destroy your seed.) *look for ways to bring peace into the city in which you live, I have placed you there, (said God.) *PRAY to God for that city and for its peace, for in the peace that prevails in that city shall you have peace. *Seventy years from now I will bring you home.
When we look at almost any portion of Scripture we are able to draw more than one corollary from its message. I am certain we could go in many directions with this text, but today it is on my heart to hone in on this facet of it, that the lives of these people were very much as ours today.
When you consider what God told to them to do, it is much the same as we do now. It sounds so routine and maybe lacking of luster.
We comfort ourselves all too often that, "things are different today and we don't follow the same rules as they did in the old days."
Actually not much has changed at the base of our living: the trees continue to grow from the ground, the sky is filled with the Sun, Moon and Stars. Babies are born in the same way, and we continue to breathe air, and our hearts pump the blood through our bodies. We still need food, and air, and water. The list of sameness is very lengthy.
No doubt we mess up and miss God too often because we are thinking that IF God is involved in a thing then rockets must shoot upward, sparkles must fly through the air, and great booming sounds should break the sound barrier; when in fact God is every bit as involved in the routine happenings of everyday, and He does not consider it boring.
The primary need we have as God's people today is to be aware of His Presence being with us at every moment. We need to trust His Promise that He never leaves us, He never forsakes us; even the very hairs of our head are numbered and those numbers are known to God. We must recognize that we draw not one breath except that God gives it. We must understand that God gives the comfortable and He governs the uncomfortable.
Allow me to read a portion from C. S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain: "The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in. The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe (from the possibilities of harm,) but we have plenty of fun and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and would then oppose our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bath, or a football match, have no such tendency of pulling us toward seeking God. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home."
In verses 10 - 14 of Jeremiah chapter 29, God tells those Israelites, whom He had displaced, that IF they seek for Him with all their hearts then He would be found by them, and that when they prayed, He would hear.
God sent them into a foreign land, to live there as normal persons live in the land, but they were not to join into the unrest and disputes and problems and activities of that city; rather they were assigned to pray for peace, and to find ways to create peace.
We live in another day and under another Covenant, but let's recall what Jesus has told us to do. *to PRAY, *to seek peace* to live honorable with honesty among our neighbors,* we are to increase, * we are to occupy, *we are to be salt in the world,* we are to be the light of the world, *we are to endure tribulation and persecution as good soldiers of Christ, *we are to keep in mind that we are in a foreign land, *we are to visit the orphan, the widow and the prisoner, *we are told to feed the hungry, *to clothe the naked, *to spread the good news of the Gospel, *to be obedient to all God's instructions to us, and remember that after a period of time He will come get us and return us to the place of our origin.
We affirm that Promise every time we take communion: "Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again."
My concluding statement is to punctuate that even though we live what seems to be a routine, 'stuck on automatic pilot' kind of life, maybe even monotonous lives, God is in it!
God is HERE WITH us, He sees everything we do and knows our thoughts before we think them. He is aware of every need, and every pain, and of every joy and sorrow. We must learn to talk to Him about all of it, all the time. We absolutely must read His Word to us, on a daily basis, so that we can know Him and know how He thinks and feels about things, and what He expects of us.
With all that we do live each day there is none the less in us a desire, a deep longing, to see the miraculous, the fantastic workings of our God, those things which He does at random times, when He decides it is necessary and right. It seems a truth, however, that IF we developed the practice of FAITH in constant communion with Him that He would be pleased to do the super miraculous more often.
I want to leave you with an awareness of this fact; God has His daily routine miracles and His spectacular miracles.
Some hesitate to say that the routine things God does are really miraculous, things like keeping the Sun in the sky and maintaining the processes of our entire Universe, but I ask you, could you do it? None of us can so much as exist unless God does it.
Let us be sensitive to the daily routine miracles that God does, and of His abiding Presence with us each day; let us give Him thanks for the comforts of the routine things He provides that are both comforting and critical for our happiness and welfare. Let us be constantly seeking His Face. One must be really close to see another's face.
Let us develop a relationship with God that allows Him to bring more of the spectacular miracles into our lives; but, let us cherish each moment with God in full recognition that Almighty God also oversees the routine, regular lives we live. He is fully aware. Not one thing escapes His notice and control.
I wish to read a poem to you about the routine, and sometimes seemingly monotonous processes of our daily life, which is not monotonous after all, it is sustaining, it is gloriously routine and constantly miraculous.
Learning to be faithful
I've been thinking about it
and I really must say that my life
is monotonous from day to day.
Everyday doing the very same things,
waiting and wishing for spiritual gains
within my heart to grow,
and in my life to show.
After all, God is miraculous and
powerful, He's a mountain moving
God, things just ought to happen
when He is involved. So why am I here
just doing the plod of a day to day
"Where are You God?"
Yet, I think of the things that God
does as He holds all things together,
and I understand there are many things
that I take as fact of matter, such as
my heart that beats and the breaths
that I breathe, and grass that is there,
and also the trees,
the sun that rises and sets
at a scheduled time,
ending the night and beginning the day,
and it has always happened
exactly that way.
The stars are hanging there in the sky
exactly in their place,
never moving at all, not by a trace.
The wind and water, God controls,
while being aware of every prayer
that ascends to Him from every soul.
He's been doing all that He does
since before to the earth I came,
and long, long after I'm gone,
He'll continue to do the same
things. I suppose that I have to
consider the indisputable
truth that I see, routine is not dull
to God, it just seems dull to me.
There is a deeper truth that we
realize while living out our routine
day to day lives, routine is acceptable
and right, in God's eyes.
"So whatever your hand finds to do,
do it with all your might!" "For what does
God require of you but to walk humbly
with Him, to love mercy,
and to do justly in His sight?"
These are the things that I can do as I live
day to day, knowing that my faithful plod
is very acceptable to my Seeing God.
And while in the life of every one
occasional wonders occur when
we can say emphatically,
"Oh yes, God was here!" Most of our life
is blandly routine, but that in itself is
miraculous, although it's not the main thing.
The primary thing required of our life
is to actively worship our God, and always
to be careful to not engage in strife;
to do our work and to be applied,
to be merciful to those who are at our side,
to do justly in all that we do and say
and then, when to Heaven we come
we will joyfully hear Jesus say,
"Welcome home, faithful one."
Oh yes, there are miracles to be done
and messages to be told!
There are healings that will come
and salvation to many souls;
and still, these are the things that are done
by our God, through the ones who
with Him walk faithfully
in the times we call "Routine"
or perhaps, "Monotony."
Ramona, Master in Ministry Arts, BA in Biblical Studies, I am an Ordained Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
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