Thursday, February 26, 2015

Protection in Punishment

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Isaiah 55:8-11 
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
One of the most beautiful and quoted passage of the Old Testament; Jeremiah 29:11, was a part of a prophecy that Israel would spend 70 years in Babylon in captivity. God told them to marry, to plant gardens, and to bloom there. God had every intention of protecting His children, but it amazes me how we pull out the promises without looking at the big picture.
God was allowing protection in the midst of a punishment.
In the midst of the exile to Babylon, a young man was brought up before a king. He was so impressive, that he served not only Nebuchadnezzar, but Darius and Beltshazzar. God gave him the prophecies that we now know as the 40 Weeks: the cornerstone of how we understand the Tribulation.
It's amazing what God can do when He gets your attention. Paul was so frustrated that he couldn't get to the Corinthian churches. He had to resort to writing letters during his imprisonments, sigh... poor guy. He didn't realize that his letters would end up being two-freaking-thirds of the New Testament. While I'm sorry that Paul didn't get his way when he wanted it, I'm really not all that sorry... God used the unfortunate punishment to create something beautiful.

Isn't that just like our God? Using something that could be the most annoying, punishing circumstances to create something so mind-boggling beautiful that it affects all of mankind? His promise of our Peace and Provision isn't a snow job to keep us guessing.

I always think it's hilarious (sort of) when J has a near conniption when I step out of the gated living room. I'm just going to the kitchen; to make lunch. For him. To get a bottle. For him. I'm not leaving him outside in the snow; he has a room full of his toys, boxes, etc. He is fully capable of entertaining himself for 10 minutes in a safe area. Eventually, he'll figure out that he's not being tortured and will find a big box of something messy and he's good. He's learning on his own. He's slowly learning that mom isn't leaving and will always be around.

It's not punishment to make our own tough decisions. God has assured us that we are protected by His Grace. The lessons we learn from those crazy times - if we choose to learn them- are priceless and beautiful. Even though the lesson we're having to learn are usually due to other poor choices we've made, we're still protected. We just have to learn how to play with a box until God can give us something better. He always has something better for us. Always. His plans are to an expected end of promise.

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