Today's lectionary reading: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Jeremiah 33:1-9; Philippians 2:12-18
Selected Passage for Reflection: Jeremiah 33:1-9 (CEB)
“While he was still confined to the prison quarters, the LORD’s word came to Jeremiah a second time: The LORD proclaims, the LORD who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the LORD: Call to me and I will answer and reveal to you wondrous secrets that you haven’t known.
This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, proclaims about the houses of this city and the palaces of the kings of Judah that were torn down to defend against the siege ramps and weapons of the invading Babylonians. They will be filled with the corpses of those slain in my fierce anger. I hid my face from the people of this city because of all their evil deeds, but now I will heal and mend them. I will make them whole and bless them with an abundance of peace and security. I will bring back the captives of Judah and Israel, and I will rebuild them as they were at first. I will cleanse them of all the wrongdoing they committed against me, and I will forgive them for all of their guilt and rebellion. Then this city will bring me great joy, praise, and renown before all nations on earth, when they hear of all the good I provide for them. They will be in total awe at all the good and prosperity I provide for them.”
As a kid growing up in the 90s, the song “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot was often used in movies. While not an appropriate song for a child to sing, I did learn the idea of “I like big butts and I can not lie” early on. However I was also a Bible nerd as a kid and so this song translated into “But, God...” for the big butts part.
My whole life is one big “But, God...”. Coming from a background filled with trauma and pain, I often felt like the reality of the city in the first part of this passage. My life was a disaster zone in my eyes. I felt as if I had no hope and no reason to live. It seemed as if everywhere I turned that was an area without life.
In August of 2015, I was sent to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. I was also in seminary at the time and truly felt as if I had blown any chance I had at being useful for God.
Over the past five and a half years, God has journeyed with me towards restoration. I cried out to Him and he began the process of healing, mending, restoring, rebuilding. He is making me whole. He continues to give me peace when my mind seeks chaos. He cleanses me and forgives me each time I go back to old thought patterns and old ways. He blesses me with community and gives me a secure refuge in Him.
Others may never know the depths of the journey that God and I have been on. However the journey is not about the end but about the growth on the journey. I stand in awe of him taking my brokenness and showing me the wondrous mystery of his unfailing love, mercy and grace towards those to call out to him.
What areas of your life are in need of restoration?
Ask God to begin restoring these areas to life.
Who are you willing to let walk beside you on this journey of restoration?
Who are you willing to walk with on their restoration journey?
Emmanuel, you see the areas of my life that I do not let anyone else see. You see the areas of my life I refuse to acknowledge. You try to shine your light so that restoration can begin and I hid under a blanket pretending that the light can not reach me there. But you, you grab a larger blanket and sit with me. You remind me that I am not alone and that you are with me, even in the darkness, even in the light. Remind me that you are Immanuel God with us and will not abandon me. Heal me. Mend me. Restore me. Cleanse me. Forgive me. Make me whole in you. I love you Lord. Amen.
Heather is from Alabama but lives in New Orleans with her guinea pigs. She works as a nanny and serves on the audio visual team at her church. She received her Masters of Divinity in Urban Missions at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in December of 2019. She desires to bring the church to the people and help others on their journey towards restoration. Follow her on Instagram @heathershae617.