Just Keep Growing

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their 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.

Jeremiah 29:5‭-‬6 ESV

Many times when we talk of Jeremiah 29, we focus on Jeremiah 29: 11 (For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord , plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.) And this makes perfect sense since Jeremiah 29:11 is such a hope-filled promise. There is great peace knowing God has a good plan for each of us. There is immense comfort knowing God has prepared for everyone a future and a hope.

Yet one thing we must remember is the book of Jeremiah was penned during a time when not all of God’s children were following Him. They were following man-made gods and looking to everything and everyone else except the one true God. This is what led God to use Jeremiah to prophesy repeatedly about Israel’s sin and God’s coming judgment for that sin. Yes, the judgment would be followed by God’s merciful restoration and ultimate salvation through Jesus, but the exile was coming first.

Which brings me to the verse at the beginning of this post. The exhortation above was not spoken to God’s children when they were prospering. It was spoken to them as instruction during exile. God commanded them to build their homes and their families during exile. He commanded them to live life and to care about the place they were in. In essence, God didn’t want His children to huddle in a corner for 70 years doing nothing. He also did not intend to destroy them. God wanted the exile to demolish sin and rebellion while He simultaneously rebuilt His children. God did not want to wipe the Israelites off the face of the Earth; He wanted them to grow–to grow physically and spiritually. He wanted them to come back from exile better than how they went in.

And no matter the situations we may find ourselves facing, God wants the same for us. He wants our welfare, not our destruction. He wants us to walk in hope, not in despair. He wants us to bloom where we’re planted, not hide in the dirt hoping for better soil.

In a way beyond our ability to fully comprehend, God, in His ultimate wisdom, designed the plans for our lives with full knowledge of the good, the bad, and the ugly. He foreknew every sin. He foreknew the times of discipline. He foreknew the times of refreshing. God foreknew all the devastating circumstances in our lives just as much as He foreknew all the pleasant ones. And He saw it all working for His good and for His glory (Romans 8:28). He knew we would not sail through this life on smooth seas with a consistent tail wind. He knew there would be rough seas, strong head winds, and devastating storms. Yet none of the events written in God’s book were designed to destroy us; as God’s children, we were created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared beforehand that we may walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). As God’s children, all the moments of our lives were ordained to bring Him glory. As God’s children, all the moments of our lives are also opportunities for growth.

I’m not sure what your life looks like right now. You may be singing from the mountaintop, crying out from the valley, or somewhere in between. Regardless, my encouragement to you today is the same: just keep growing. Yes. Just keep growing. Sing it to yourself the way Dory from Finding Nemo sings “Just Keep Swimming.”

Just keep growing. Just keep growing. What do you do? You grow!

Are your heart’s desires coming to life before your eyes and life is good? Be grateful, remember the One who is the giver of all good things, and keep seeking Him first in everything. Just keep growing. Don’t begin taking credit for the good things in your life; this will take your eyes off Jesus. And don’t begin taking your foot off the gas because you think you’ve arrived; you will soon slow down and eventually come to a stop.

Just keep growing.

Maybe you are looking at your life right now and thinking, “This doesn’t look much like a future and a hope!” Don’t despair! God knows you and He knows where you are. He also knows the purpose behind your placement. And no, not all unpleasant situations are a result of sin, so don’t begin beating yourself up or trying to figure out what you could have possibly done to deserve this, whatever “this” is. Sure, you may be where you are because of sin and disobedience, and if that’s the case, then repent. But you also may be where you are through no fault of your own. You could be where you are simply because we live in a broken world filled with broken people. Regardless, you can trust God has a greater purpose beyond your understanding.

And you can always just keep growing.

Yes, I am intentionally repeating myself. For no matter the situation you are in or the reasons behind it, God wants you to grow. He wants you to draw near to Him. He wants you to do everything as unto Him. He wants you seek Him, to serve Him, to love Him–wherever you are. God doesn’t have you where you are so He can destroy you; He wants to grow you. He wants to use you. He wants the world to see Him shining through you.

And how can you do this? How can you let God’s light continue to shine even in the darkest of nights?

Just keep growing. Just keep growing. What do you do? You grow!

(For those who may not be a Finding Nemo connoisseur, here is a link to a clip of Dory singing: Just Keep Swimming)

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