Inspiration: Jeremiah 29:11, Plans

Dear Inspiration Seekers,

Twice last week, the Vicar called to check on us.  First, after the Mineral, VA earthquake, and second, after Hurricane Irene.  In both cases, we skimmed by the events, experiencing a bit of shaking and a couple of thunderstorms.  I am old enough to remember such events being called “Acts of God”, though now we refer to them as “Natural Disasters”.  As we had little excitement to report, other than making BBQ sauce, the Vicar and I moved on to other topics.  He mentioned that he would be filling in for the teaching at a nearby church this past Sunday, using Jeremiah 29:11 as his topic.  As I am between my father’s dissertations on Romans and Galatians, I thought I would check into this reference.  ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord…”.  This brings up some interesting thoughts about the nature of God’s relationship to people.  

I suspect that the phrase, “Acts of God”, developed because the Old Testament has many stories about plagues, storms, earthquakes, etc., which coincided with God knocking some message into somebody’s head.  We might interpret these as God’s attempt to get our attention, give us direction, or bring retribution for disobedience. Or, we might interpret these as people incorporating phenomenon around them into their belief systems.  The Vicar and I tend to lean toward each of these opinions.  God uses events around is as a means of communicating.  Amazing coincidences occur.

” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”  What I found interesting about this passage, was the direct quote from God, transcribed by Jeremiah.  Jeremiah does not say “The Lord told me…”, or, “The Lord revealed to me…”.  No, this verse occurs in a letter (chapter 29) from Jeremiah to the exiled Jews in Babylon.  Most of the letter is Jeremiah quoting the Lord.  It is pretty direct.

Someone who leans toward the theology of no theo in the ology, would probably discount this as people making up stuff to influence other people.  Someone who leans toward the theology of a distant life-creation force, which does not have direct interaction other than keeping the laws of nature going, might pass this off as people looking for more than they can find.  Someone who leans toward the theology of God needing a church hierarchy to intercede for the common parishioner, might see this as Jeremiah going between the Lord and the exiled Jews.  Some who leans toward the theology of a personal relationship with God, probably does not understand why those other people miss the point.

Regardless of how we might approach such a direct communication, a question arises as to why such explicit interaction and understanding of God’s use of natural phenomenon, writing on walls, and prophets occurred at this time in history and not now.   Do we blind ourselves, of current attempts for God to communicate to us, by our conceptualization of laws of physics and nature being scientific, thus occurring of their own properties?  Do we become confused and disenchanted by the current day prophets, who say that 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina occurred because the USA harbors homosexuals, or who say that Muslims should carry out jihad against Western Culture’s evil, or who rant about God (and whom we believe need anti-psychotic or mood stabilizing medications)?  Are we just too busy and distracted by the latest movie or sporting event to worry about the state of our society, politics, and faith communities?

I shall not be able to answer these questions nor the theological debates.  However, I shall postulate that how we interpret the verse in Jeremiah probably has more to do with our established beliefs, than what is written.  Rather than God’s relationship to us, we see this as our relationship to God.  If the Lord sent out a Tweet, “OMG, I’v got plan 4 U”, we would probably let our belief systems filter this out as personal or spam.  Me? I do not have a cell phone, so I shall have to look for messages elsewhere.  Maybe God has a blog somewhere.

OMG, the raspberries need to be picked!  Back to Farm Life.

Until next time, Inspiration Seekers

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About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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8 Responses to Inspiration: Jeremiah 29:11, Plans

  1. walkingsmall says:

    no cell phone….????? (I know, I should have gotten something more inspirational from all this… but, really, no cell phone????)

    you are my hero (in case you were wondering how I felt about cell phones)

    • hermitsdoor says:

      A couple of points of practicality on cell phones for me. First, I rarely use a phone outside of work. Calls to my parents and brother are about it. Our home phone works just fine there. Second, a primary reason people seem to use cell phones is to call children and spouses. I do not have the former, and I commute with the later. Thus, unless I have fallen asleep while Linda is driving, I can just talk to her directly. Third, I view cell phones as giving people permission to not organize their lives. No one can make a plan and be at the designated place (residence, restaurant, museum, theatre, etc.) any more. “Just call when you get into town”. I am too compulsive for that. We will tell you where we will be at what time. Want to join us? Then show up.

  2. Buget Busting Mamma says:

    I finally learned what OMG means the other day while reading Laura Bush’s book, Spoken from the Heart. I had to think a minute about it. “Oh, I get it.” And I do have a cell phone, but if you asked me to text, forget it. When I’m out and about I mostly forget to turn it on, but when occasionally I need it, it works.

    About the “Natural Disasters” the world is having lately, I do think they are “An Act of God” and he-or she- although I tend to think of HE is trying to get our attention and if we are lucky enough to not be in their path, then Praise the Lord.

    Been awhile since I’ve blogged, too. Thanks for getting my attention. bbm

    • hermitsdoor says:

      Welcome back Budget Buster,

      I know very little texting lingo. When I learn what various abbreviations, I have to endure eye rolling from younger generations as I confess my ignorance of popular culture.

  3. Buget Busting Mamma says:

    Although we are not of the same generation, apparently we are on the same level of technology. But I’m concerned that you may get stuck up there on that mountain road some time and no way to get help except to yell.
    BB&M

  4. hermitsdoor says:

    Ah, I have not yet posted my blog about getting a friend out of the ditch! No, I am the one the neighbors come to when a tree falls across the road, the culverts plug up and wash out the road, and their car decide to get stuck. Once, someone called AAA and waited half a day. I was at work that day, so not to be called on. You are full of wonderful ideas to write about, but I shall space them out, in case I get writer’s block some day. Ha, ha.

  5. The Vicar says:

    At the time Jeremiah wrote the words God gave him, the Israelites had a distant relationship with God, and their circumstances had taken a turn for the worse (exile). Like the Israelis, I can live a life a part from God, and only wonder where God is when I things go bad. In my mind, God’s existence is not contingent on whether or not I think he exists (“I am who I am”, Ex 3:14). The God of Israel was seen as a creator in relationship with his creation. Much of the cause and effect relationship with “acts of god” line up with the gods of the Greeks, Romans, Persians, and Egyptians which needed to be appeased with sacrifices.

    Consider how different from other cultures the “glory of God” is described in Exodus 34:6-7 after Moses asked to see God’s glory,. And he (God) passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” How often to we think the glory of God’s as compassion, patience, and love, when we think of God having plans for our lives. Mostly it seems we think of getting punished. Perhaps this is why Paul notes in Romans that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), God’s compassion, patience, and love.

    • hermitsdoor says:

      It is tough to attempt to connect with folks who have their minds made up, usually is easy categories such as rewards and punishments. Maybe this has something to do with those generational sin cycles.

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