11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. It’s one of the more well known passages of Scripture, but I also think it is one of the most misunderstood. Most people latch onto the first verse, and stop there. “For I know the plans I have for you…plans for good and not evil, a future and a hope” — and we stop. We take something for ourselves, and we are content. “God has good plans for me; plans for good and not evil. Yay!” This verse is misunderstood when we read it with the same attitude that leads us to treat God like a vending machine. “God, just give me your good plans. I don’t want your hard plans. I don’t want your poor plans. I don’t want your plans for difficult times. I just want your good plans.” So, what happens when life is not good? When life is not full of welfare? When our future is painful…or nonexistent? Then we begin to ask, “God, where are you? Did you leave me? Don’t you love me? This can’t be the plans you have for me?”
Beloved, I promise you that when times are hard and when life is not all sunshine and rainbows and butterflies – God is still God. God is still Lord of all. God is still seated on the throne of the heavenly places. God is still in control. And this can be truth that we know with confidence, if we read the rest of the passage and apply it to our lives.
Verse 12) When we call upon the Lord, we will be answered. When we COME and pray to our Lord, He will hear our every cry. Notice the word “come.” This is a verb that puts action to our faith and feet to our words. When we feel that God has abandoned us or taken His eyes off of us, it is not God who has moved, but us. When I feel my weakest, it is usually because I have not spent time with the Lord, to be fueled by His Spirit. The Creator of the universe is inviting us into His presence! That is an invitation we absolutely don’t deserve, and one we absolutely must take advantage of!
Verse 13) When we seek God with our whole heart; when we come to Him holding nothing back – He will holding nothing back from us. This is His promise to us! When we come to Him in humble adoration, we will find Him as He reveals Himself to us. When we read His Word, it is not in vain and the power of Scripture is invited into our lives. When we cry out to Him with our doubts, fears, worries, concerns, questions, hopes, dreams, insecurities, failures, triumphs…when we bring to His feet ALL of us, then He can permeate ALL of us and give us the joy and peace that we desperately need.
Verse 14) Ah! Redemption! Restoration! It is God’s desire to restore the former devastations of our lives. Is there an inherited sin traced back through your parents, and grandparents, and great-grandparents (maybe divorce, alcoholism, drug addictions, anger)? It is the heart of God to restore that and start a new precedent with you. Do you have a past that haunts you, maybe something nobody knows but your reflection in the mirror? It is the desire of God to rebuild the parts of your soul that your past has broken, so that you may walk in freedom! Did something happen in your childhood, that resides as a dark stain on your memory, and even now as an adult you struggle to understand why it happened and how it happened and if maybe it was your fault? It is the passion of the Lord to reestablish your self-worth and bring you to a place of healing over your childhood.
“My Beloved. Yes, I do have great plans for you! Do not limit My words to your earthly standards. I am referring to something far far greater than a nice house, a comfortable life on earth, or a financially stable job. No! I am referring to My plans for you to walk in the peace and victory that I have made available to you through the death and resurrection of My Son. I am referring to My plans for you to have a life abundant with joy, storehouses full of faithfulness, and cups overflowing with freedom. I am referring to My plans for you to have a future and a hope that cannot be shaken by the intentions of the evil one. And this will be a mighty work I would love to do in your life. All you have to do is come! I am inviting you in, and I promise you it will not be in vain. Cry to Me, and I will hear you. Come to Me, and I will give you rest. Surrender to Me and you will walk in absolute freedom! My daughter, come! I cannot wait to bring your heart back from exile, and to restore the devastations of your past, present, and your future!