I have been thinking about the way the Lord speaks in Jeremiah 32. In this chapter, the Lord says such statements as, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”
Nothing is too hard for God. What we’re facing may seem to hard for us, but it’s not too hard for God. Nothing is.
And in response to Jeremiah’s distressing concern that everything around him was not and would not go well, God reminds us in verses 39-41 not to worry because He is still working. In fact, He promises this about His people:
I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.
I pray along with what I see is God’s heart towards his people. I pray for a “singleness of heart and action”–that the external would align with the internal–and that we would continue to fear God. I pray that, as a result, it would “all go well” for us. I love that this chapter of Jeremiah showcases a God who will “never stop doing good” and who even rejoices in doing good to His people.
He loves to bless. He loves to do good to us. I think we sometimes forget this and believe that God is somehow against us.
He also inspires us to fear Him and never turn away from Him.
I find myself praying this for my family:
- a heart of integrity, of singleness of heart and action toward God
- a heart that knows that nothing is too hard for God
- a heart that reveres God
- a heart that knows the goodness of God
- a heart that knows that this goodness never stops
- a heart that never turns away from God
I’m thankful that God listens and answers this prayer. Nothing is too hard for Him.
As I study the berries this spring, I announce to my husband that, for some reason, the strawberries look diminished. But the blackberries and blueberries, which typically lack that flourishing, abundant look to then, thrive.
It’s a different year, with a different yield. Who knows what conditions account for the change?
I simply remember that each season bears its own fruit. I don’t predict or control the harvest. I just plant and nurture and celebrate what comes forth.
And I dream of crepes and pies.
This morning on the walk to school, we consult the Chemistry Professor about which class my daughter should take next year in a certain subject. She’s finally tested high enough for an advanced class, but her teacher says she can choose whether or not to move up. One class ensures success; one class risks failure. All the family members have weighed in, including the Wise Big Sister, but now, we ask our clever neighbor.
“What if it’s too hard?” my daughter asks.
“It will be hard,” the Chemistry Professor says.
But then, he says, “Do the hard thing. You just might find you’re great.”
I see my daughter smiling at the challenge of it. I see her thinking it through. I see the way she’s wondering what she’ll miss if she doesn’t challenge herself. She’ll never know. And besides, she just might find she’s great.
I think of all the hard things I almost declined because I’d rather choose comfort, ease, familiarity, and sure success. I think of all the hard things that showed me something about myself I never knew was in me.
I’d rather choose the hard thing today.
All day, I think about how it’s so strange to compare myself to myself. I think of other versions of me–thinner, more productive, funnier, more lively versions–and I feel this unhappy wave begin to gather force and threaten to crash over me.
Why do I do this? Why not let the past me go? Why compare myself to the me of the twenties or thirties? And why compare myself to the person I was before marriage and children? Or worse, why compare myself to a fictional, future self that doesn’t even exist yet?
I’m right here! This is what you get! It’s glorious right here!
(This is why I have to write so many books. If I don’t, I spend time just thinking existential thoughts about past and future selves.)
I realized that to compare this thing happening right now to any other time, with any other version of me, isn’t really healthy. I gather up all the versions of myself from the past and smile fondly with the memories. But I let the current me be the one who lives.
I know it’s six months until Thanksgiving, but my sister is hosting this year. This means the planning has commenced! She’s the most organized person I know. Her careful, advanced planning means family members far and wide received a box on their doorstep today of “Thankful Jars” with our names written on each one and strips of paper precut in little baggies.
So cute! So wonderful!
The letter she sent with the Thankful Jars invites us to pay attention–for the next six months–to moments that make us so thankful. In November, we’ll all arrive to her home with jars stuffed with memories to pull out and share around the Thanksgiving table. We’ll have so much to talk about and so many blessings to recount!
Nobody can be in a bad mood with the Thankful Jars guiding our holiday. Nobody can dominate conversation or complain with the Thankful Jars standing guard on the table.
It’s a new tradition: We’ll now start our summer thankful jars each year in anticipation of Thanksgiving.
Why not start your own Thankful Jar? My sister’s artist friend painted ours with our names on one side, and I just love the bright pumpkin colored paint.
(You can find “Uniquely Yours Personalized Gifts” on Facebook).
I don’t have a picture, so you’ll just have to imagine the little brown puffs with alert ears who dart out from some burrow beneath our deck. As I’m washing breakfast dishes, they emerge as tiny chewing machines. They will eventually devour my strawberries. I’ll have to net the berries.
I’ll let them have a few. We’re all in this together.
This afternoon, I sit on my deck with late afternoon sun lighting everything differently. I await lilac and peony, blackberry and lily. I await hatched cardinals and new bluebird nests.
I await crepes of fresh raspberries and sorbet made from the overflow. I await tomatoes and beets and basil.
I await nothing that won’t inevitably come, and the joy and certainly of it fill every spot in this wide, wide heart.
I await bunnies that will surely arrive to enjoy breakfast as I stand at the same sink where once I found not one thing to hope for.
And now, there’s too much to know what to do with. So we invent recipes and bouquets. We tell tales of rabbits.
It was all here if we just chose to look, to receive, and to write it all into this story of our lives right here.
My friend, the artist from Texas, shares with me the words penned by John Newton in regards to prayer:
Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring,
For his grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much!
All weekend, I think about my rather small petitions in light of God’s power and willingness. I think of my artist friend’s bold prayers. I think of the expectation and the joy. I think of that kind of supernatural living.
We approach the Lord of the Universe. There is nothing He cannot do. We cannot ask too much.
I enlarge my petitions and think about this amazing God.
Already, life feels different.
I read this morning in Philippians 4:8-9:
“. .. whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
I think about practicing dwelling on good things. To practice means to repeatedly do something to gain expertise in it. The practice of recording beautiful moments for thousands of days has indeed brought a new, different, deeper peace. Beauty connects me again to worship.
So we venture out, early and with expectation, to dwell in beauty. We find the first excellent thing right outside the door:
Sometimes I’m overcome with the simplicity of such statements in scripture like this one from Psalm 30:2: “O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.”
I call. He helps. He heals.
Or the prophet Isaiah who tells us, “You will call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am’.” (Isaiah 58:9)
I call. He answers. Here I am.
So I do. Then I read in Psalm 68:19: “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”
Each new day, Jesus helps, heals, answers, and bears our burdens.
Here I am.