Happy New Year 2021! So many of us heaved a sigh of relief as we turned the calendar page away from 2020. Others of us are in fear of the future and unsure of 2021. During our time of quarantine our family watched a popular movie called Jumanji about a game where players try to complete difficult tasks in order to leave the game. They encounter many obstacles and overcome many challenges, but in order to escape at the end they must all call out “Jumanji”! Our teenage daughter jokingly asked our family to yell “Jumanji” at midnight on New Year’s Eve in order to help us escape out of the mess we are in right now due to so many situations in our fallen world. Even as we have hope for the future our flesh certainly cries out for an escape of the trials that this world offers, so we all relented as we laughingly yelled “Jumanji” as the ball dropped. Your New Year’s Day may have looked the same this year or possibly different in the way you celebrated, but many of us still made goals and resolutions for ourselves and our families. Many take great pleasure in filling up their new calendars with those new plans. Perhaps you want to work on forgiving others this year, not holding grudges, not becoming bitter, not overeating, working out more often, not becoming angry as easily, or maybe your focus is on increasing your patience. Most of us take great delight in knowing that we have fresh new plans. One of our family’s plans this year is to read the Word of God together and individually more often. Allowing the Word of God to sink in and teach us daily will help us shift our perspective on this world that sometimes makes us want to yell or seek our escape. When making our plans we must remember to look to God for HIS plans for us.
God always has plans for His people. In the Bible the prophet Jeremiah wrote a letter to the Jerusalem captives of King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. Imagine the pain of being taken from your home and carried away to a new land with a different culture and being required to assimilate quickly to the new culture. I am sure these Babylonian captives cried to the Lord for an escape. Like so many slaves throughout time these captives were ripped from their homes and their beloved land. Jeremiah sent the captives a letter instructing them to build houses and dwell in them and take wives and have children so that their number may increase within their captive land. He even asked them to pray for peace in the city for in its peace they would have peace. Even as they were crying for an escape the Lord was telling them to get a realtor, buy a house, get married, have children, and pray for peace in this land surrounded by people who are hostile towards you. The Lord wanted them to stop complaining about what they had been taken away from, but rather to obey Him and choose to live and even thrive where He planted them in that time. God was listening to them and He even promised to bring them out of this captivity in 70 years. He had a purpose and plans for them even when it may have not felt like it to them. Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Sign me up! I want peace, future and a hope! It is important to read right after this verse as well. “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” Jer. 29:12. Are we praying to God? Is He the one we cry to or is it our friends, our hobbies, or our friends for our escape? “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jer. 29:13 I am so glad that the Lord isn’t one of those mean people who plays hide and go seek and leaves the game premises so that they are never found. Are we planning to seek the Lord this year? He will let us find Him! Plan to focus on Him this year and if you need an escape from this world then feel free to cry out “Jesus” and go to Him in prayer and to His Word for the Truth. His plans for you are great! Rest in Him as He is the master planner of your future!
As you make your plans this year, remember that you are precious to the Lord and HE has great plans for you. In this coming year I pray that you are able to focus on God’s goodness even if you are feeling captive to your surroundings and situations. God is good all the time and He has great plans for you. Cry out to Him and He hears your cries. He will bring you peace, a future, and hope. Rather than looking back with bitterness or anger towards what you may have lost remember to trust God that He cares about you and your circumstances. Remember that “All things work together for good to those who love Christ Jesus and who are called according to His purpose” Romans 8:28. May your 2021 be filled with peace and great hope for your future.