Jeremiah is not just the name of a famous bull frog. We've all heard that song (I really love the chorus of that song, by the way). Jeremiah is also the name of a prophet.
To be honest, Jeremiah is exactly the kind of biblical character I've always avoided. I hate to read about the old law - the broken promises, the broken relationships: God loves humanity, humanity becomes impatient, humanity worships the things it has made with its own hands . . . then God sends a final warning . . . then God punishes humanity. The cycle of violence repeated so often in the Old Testament is sad and sickening to me. So I've glossed over a bunch of that during my life - and I have spent most of my time involved in one church or another . . . so I've done a lot of glossing over.
But in this quest to actually read the whole Bible I have been taking a sort of daily prescription of passages and right now I'm smack in the middle of tackling Jeremiah. It's still sad material, but I see a lot more of myself buried in it than I used to.
I have tried to destroy myself so many times. You know how the Israelites did it? They were constantly frustrated and searching for something to make their situation better. And God wasn't working fast enough to satisfy them - or at least they didn't feel like God was. The stories of this nation of people are like a macrocosm of what we experience in the microcosm of individual life every day. Repeatedly we go off in search of something better. We try to build it ourselves. We try to control it ourselves. Then when we find it to be impossible, we are confused.
When my son was born I was very happy. But also very sad. And when I took my first full time job I was very happy . . . but also very sad. When we bought our house I was very happy . . . and also very sad. For years and years a sense of "this isn't enough" has loomed heavy over any bright, beautiful, exciting thing I've done. It's always there like a big, wool blanket - always sucking the air out of the space I'm trying to live in.
And with the full time job and also soon after the birth of my wonderful baby I could actually feel it - a physical pain that went with the sadness. The backs of arms and legs and the soles of the feet didn't want to touch anything - floors, chairs, the arms of other people. It was like being bruised all over with no real bruises anywhere.
So for a while I shopped. I shopped around for jobs and searched frantically for anything that seemed like it would be a more creative opportunity - because surely a SONGWRITER shouldn't be STUCK in ONE JOB for the next 40 YEARS! . . . . oh . . . . but then again, maybe this songwriter should be gifted with a deeply impactful, very creative, very demanding job . . . for the next 40 years. And maybe she should allow God to help her see it that way. But I digress.
After we bought our house I went through a phase where I continued to shop online - for anything better. Any other house. Because surely THIS HOUSE wasn't GOOD ENOUGH. Surely THIS HOUSE wasn't BIG ENOUGH. Surely THIS LIFE wasn't FANCY ENOUGH.
When my son was born I had to sit and hold him a lot. And for a few months I hardly ever left the house. It was really a rough time. Not because of who this terrific kid is . . . but because of who I am and because of something I was having to struggle through again. So I used my phone and I shopped. I shopped for all kinds of things. Home decor and clothing. Baby stuff that we really didn't need. Little things to try and patch a big brokenness.
And I told you already - the reading of the Bible is currently taking up that old shopping time. I use an app on my phone and the only thing I click on is the page turning feature! Because it wasn't enough to just stop the shopping. I had to have something to take the place of the shopping that would put goodness back into my life.
It's like any worthy health plan - you can't just STOP eating. You have to STOP eating the BAD STUFF and START eating the GOOD STUFF (and incidentally, my family is going through a major diet change right now to do just that - and it's been difficult, but great).
This song. Take a listen. It's thematic, etc. And Robbie didn't really love it when I'd finished my little living room recording, but I totally do! Hah. So, enjoy :-)
I'm being totally honest here - loving God and knowing Jesus doesn't mean that a person is automatically cured of all the worldly ill.
I get it.
I get why it was so hard for the Israelites to be on the same page with God. It's part of the human element - it's one of the things we share in common with every other person on the planet. Our ability to always want more or different.
We know what they couldn't see then - that God would have the greatest mercy imaginable. That the person of Jesus would reconcile everything.
We know the end of that chapter and we STILL have to fight like crazy to push the darkness of jealousy and pride and self serving want away from our hearts.
Now - I am NOT SAYING that we should not ever have nice things.
I wish that everybody on the planet could stop for a few minutes every single day to experience something nice. To be given something special. And when we are fortunate enough to have something nice or do something nice, we should stop and enjoy that nice thing. And that's the point, people!!! This constantly comparing and wanting and idolizing - it's poison. It is poison to the human soul. It will wither and wilt the goodness growing up inside of us. It will pull all of the sunshine out of us and leave us empty. It will give us nothing. It will teach us nothing.
Joy to the world - ALL the boys and girls. Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea. Joy to you and me.
Recently, when I am preparing to go to sleep, I have been speaking these words to myself, "Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!"
A mobile home.
A living home.
An indestructible, completely safe and trustworthy home. A home without human judgement. That's another thing that is currently blowing my mind - the idea that God can know me all the way and can have a sense of right and good judgement about everything going on in there. Because God's judgement is not like the judgement we get from other human beings. It's actually full of goodness and understanding. So much so that we can't wrap our minds around it.
The ultimate safe and trustworthy relationship.
So tonight I will continue my slow journey through Jeremiah. And tomorrow . . . maybe I will remember to stop and be fully present, not wanting anything other than what has been offered to me.