A Great Day

A Great Day (CaD Jer 16) Wayfarer

“However, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but it will be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.
Jeremiah 16:14-15 (NIV)

Wendy and I enjoyed a very nice Easter yesterday. It was a gorgeous spring day in Iowa. The temperature was perfect. We opened the house to let the fresh spring breeze gently blow away any remaining winter dust.

We began Easter at worship with our local gathering of Jesus’ followers, which was packed full of both people and energy. Text messages came streaming in from family far and wide including Italy and Mexico. Wendy’s sister, Suzanna, announced that she’s pregnant with baby number two. Wendy and I made a bee line for home to host family for a classic midwest Iowa Easter dinner of roast turkey and ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet corn, warm rolls fresh from the oven, and green bean casserole. Of course there was cheesecake. Wendy made everyone’s favorite Dutch Letter cheesecake, but I personally chose some warm apple pie with some vanilla ice cream on top. There were eight of us total around the dining room table: Wendy and me, my dad, Wendy’s parents, grandma, along with an uncle and aunt. After our feast we sat in the living room to watch the Cubs lose as everyone nodded off. Americana at its best. It was downright Norman Rockwell-esque.

And, yes, there are leftovers!

After yesterday’s amazing celebration and feast, today’s chapter really resonated. God through the prophet Jeremiah uses three distinct word pictures to communicate to the Hebrew people just how stark the contrast will be when the Babylonians lay siege to the city of Jerusalem. God paints a series of three word pictures of the intimacy of family gatherings. Life’s most intimate moments are family gatherings, weddings, and funerals. Family gathers from far and wide to support, celebrate, mourn, dance, and feast. The ancient prophet paints these pictures of these intimate gatherings we all know, and then points out that in the wake of the coming Babylonian invasion all such normal human experiences will cease to be.

Families will be destroyed by starvation, violence, or separated by captivity and exile. There will be no one left to mourn. There will be no food for feasting. There will be no weddings. There won’t even be funerals because there will be no one left to mourn. The bodies will simply be left lying around. The only feasting will be carrion foul.

It’s a bleak picture to be sure, yet in the quiet this morning it has me meditating on a couple of realities.

The first is the reality that life does not always turn out the way we planned. As much as I may want to assume that my future will be smooth sailing and filled with Norman Rockwell-esque memory making for the rest of my years, there is no guarantee. As I ponder this, it makes me even more grateful for days like yesterday. I never want to take them for granted.

The second reality is that after painting the apocalyptic word pictures of doom, God provides a massive, game-changing “However” followed by a vision of redemption and restoration:

“However, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but it will be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.

One of the recurring themes of the Great Story is that of this earthly journey being a trek through a series of peaks and valleys. Even in the famous 23rd psalm I start with the Shepherd in lush mountain pastures, traverse the “valley of the shadow of death” and end up on the next mountain-top in the “House of the Lord.”

God reminds His people through Jeremiah that 1) tough times are coming in consequence of their own poor choices and hard hearts but 2) this will teach them spiritual lessons that need to be learned and that eventually 3) God’s road of life will one day bring them back home much wiser and more grateful to be redeemed and restored.

I’m even more grateful for yesterday’s Easter celebration after meditating on this morning’s chapter. I’ll be extra thankful when I ask God’s blessing on the leftovers! 😉

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

One thought on “A Great Day”

  1. Take a good look in the mirror—each of you doing whatever you want, whenever you want, refusing to pay attention to me. And for this I’m getting rid of you, throwing you out in the cold, into a far and strange country. You can worship your precious no-gods there to your heart’s content. Rest assured, I won’t bother you anymore.’

    There’s really nothing I can or need to add here. It’s pretty clear we serve a jealous God.

    Like

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