If you ask a kid what they want out of their life when they grow up, they will probably give you some pretty inspiring answers. Maybe they will want to get a good job that pays well. Maybe they want to get married and have kids. Maybe they want to buy a house and give their kids a better childhood than they experienced. The point is, most of the kids I have worked with are not lacking goals and dreams for the future.
This reminds me of a very popular passage from the Bible–Jeremiah 29:11. Most of you have probably heard this passage before and you could recite it without even looking it up. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
You would be hard pressed to find another passage in the Bible that is more often used to make people feel good about their future. Of course I am not saying that it shouldn’t be used that way. The people of Israel were in exile and many of them were convinced that all joy was eternally lost because they were forcefully taken away from their beloved home–Jerusalem. Jeremiah’s words might have been (rightfully so) used to bring a bright hope for the days to come for these battered exiles.
I think that we should also spend a minute or two looking at Jeremiah’s words before verse 11. I was especially surprised to find verses 5-7. “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But 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 find your welfare.”
Jeremiah wanted to make sure these exiles felt a sense of hope for their future, but he also wanted to make sure they lived their lives right then…and right there. He even makes a point to say that these exiles should seek the welfare of the city whose people have displaced them!
This passage brings me back to the kids I get to work with at Joshua Station. It’s healthy and good for them to have a bright hope for the future. But many of them haven’t made the connection that what they do today matters too. In some cases their current decisions don’t match up perfectly with their future plans. If you plan to get a good job, buy a house, and give your kids a better childhood than you experienced, you might want to make sure you don’t skip school regularly. You might want to make sure you stay out of legal trouble. It might prove life changing to see that there is a string that connects today with tomorrow.
It is important that we learn that God is For us—both for our future as well as our today. This is, of course, not a message exclusively for our kids at JS. It is a message that I am finding all too relevant for myself and I am assuming most of you would say the same.
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