Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare. -Jer. 29:7 (NASB)
In the 2004 Disney/Pixar animated film The Incredibles, a former superhero (Mr. Incredible) is presently a dad trying to relive his glory days. Later in the film, he and his family are all in shackles as a result of his clandestine adventure-seeking. He comes to realize that while he was seeking adventure on his own, the real adventure was right under his nose all along: the family he was neglecting while he was chasing the adventure he wanted now.
In the opening chapters of Genesis, God makes a garden for Adam and Eve to tend. It’s part of a larger world where there is no disease or death or pain. But the serpent tempts them with the prospect of greater power and knowledge. He’s taking their sight off tending the garden—and everyday adventure—that’s right under their noses. Death, disease, and pain enter the world, which they’re now ushered into as they’re banished from the garden.
Pretty much the rest of the Bible chronicles all the different ways man continues in his disobedience and envy, while God patiently stays with them. At one of the many low points, Israel’s continued disobedience finally reaps punishment through the people’s exile to Babylon. And now, since they didn’t tend their garden, they live in someone else’s garden.
The prophet Jeremiah sends a letter to the exiles, which contains the much-loved verse:
For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. -Jer. 29:11 (NASB)
But before that happens, God uses Jeremiah’s letter to tell His people that they must tend their current garden. Thrive there. Show Him they can still be grateful even when living out the consequences they’ve reaped. (Jer. 29:1-10)
How’s your garden?
Maybe the garden you’re in has some really stubborn weeds that need pulling. Maybe it’s been neglected, and needs the water of kindness, love, and quality time. What kinds of seeds are you sowing while you’re waiting to reap a better tomorrow?
God works through people—and that includes me and you—to be active participants in His plan for a better future and hope. Just ask Him to fill you with all the qualities you lack—and to let Him do so by dropping the pride, bitterness, and resentment that’s blocking Him—so He can use you to make the incredible garden right under your nose thrive to His glory.