When God allowed the Israelites to be taken into captivity by the Babylonians, he instructed the prophet Jeremiah to tell them to build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and enjoy what they planted. They were going to be there a while.
This wasn’t a day by day arrangement. Give it a go. See what you think of the neighborhood. If you don’t like it after thirty days, okay. You can go back.
Nope. God meant for the Israelites to put down roots in this foreign land because whether they realized it or not, he had a purpose for their time in Babylon.
Sometimes God sends us into a type of Babylonian exile. He sends us to a place we’d rather not be. Into a job or circumstances we’d rather not face. Those exiles might be physical, emotional, or spiritual.
When God exiles us and tells us to settle down, it isn’t by mistake. We certainly might wonder and question, but God did not get it wrong. He has lessons he wants us to learn about ourselves and about him.
Often, Babylon is the only place we can learn those lessons.
Some of us learn faster than others. I’m a slow learner.
Several years back, God exiled Pilot and me to our own Babylon. I often joked about us being in Babylonian captivity. But it was not funny.
I’ll spare you the details but believe me, I did not want us to build a house, settle down, and plant a garden. Not at all. I wanted us out of there ASAP. Like yesterday.
One godly friend patiently listened as I whined and complained to her week after week the whole entire time. (Waving to you sweet friend. You know.)
“Why isn’t God getting us out of here? Why hasn’t he opened other doors? Why is he ignoring our prayers? Why? Why? Why?”
My mentality was more rent by the month, rather than build a house and join the community mentality. I did not want to look for any good in the situation. I did not want to see what God’s purpose for exiling us was. And I certainly wasn’t going to enjoy it.
I was miserable. And I made those around me miserable as well. Not intentionally. Just as a by-product of my own misery.
Plant a garden? Not likely.
You know the saying you may not be able to control the wind, but you can adjust your sails? Pilot adjusted his sails. Not me. I restlessly kept an eye on the door for God’s deliverance. Not that it made our captivity end one second earlier.
From experience I know by refusing to build a house, settle down, and plant a garden during whatever exile God leads us to, we just might miss out on an opportunity to learn the lessons only that specific season of our life can teach us.
And wouldn’t you know it?
Three days ago, two and a half weeks after I wrote and scheduled this to post today, God told me to pack my bags. Looks like he’s leading me on another journey where he intends for me to build a house, settle down, and plant a garden.
I have a feeling I’m going to be there a while.
Ever felt like you’ve been exiled to Babylon? Were you able to build a house, settle down, and plant a garden?
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Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Jeremiah 29:5
I wish you well.
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