It’s one I’ve read hundreds of times.
It’s familiar enough for me to quote. It’s full of promise and encourages me so. We thought it to be the perfect verse for my son for his high school graduation, and printed it on his party invitation.
I’m guessing it’s familiar to you, too.
“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.” Jeremiah 29:11
But have you read it in The Voice translation??
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that.” Jeremiah 29:11
But before I go any further, I’ll be honest with you here…
This was only the third time in eighteen months we as a family attended a Sunday church service. Yes, you read that correctly.
The third time in eighteen months.
(Feel free to gasp, shake your head in disbelief, or raise an eyebrow.)
But before you do, please allow me to give you the short story: We have raised our children in the Christian faith, in worship services on Sundays. Attending these services was as much a part of our lives as brushing our teeth. However, our thirteen years there came to an end when my family and I experienced what many call “religious abuse” by others of the same faith. This caused much damage. Damage to the point where I questioned if we would ever find a place of worship we could trust again. Many well-intending friends and family members suggested we visit theirs, but it was if God continued to whisper to us, “not yet.”
So, we did what we knew to do. We continued seeking God on our own, reading His Word and attending Bible study, and growing our relationships with Him individually and as a family. Jesus was in our daily conversations, and we felt His unmistakable presence. I trusted if God wanted us to find a church, He’d show us when and where.
Today we walked into a church we had never stepped foot in before. We saw familiar, friendly and welcoming faces from our long-ago past. Long before I knew religious abuse was a real thing. It didn’t feel like eighteen months had slipped by us. It felt like we didn’t skip a beat. Even though the surroundings were unfamiliar, the music, the community, our family together, and God’s presence there blessed my healing heart. Listening to our pastor–who just moved back from nearly four years in Florida, and who was stepping in for the absent pastor–deliver a message straight from God’s Word, I knew we were right where we belonged.
At least for this morning.
I’ll continue this post tomorrow, as it’s too long to finish here.
But let me leave you with this.
God has peace-filled plans for a hope-filled future.
For you, and for me.
Friend, rest in this today, and I invite you to come back tomorrow for “the rest of the story.”
You bless me by joining me on this journey called life.
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