The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, sends this message to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food you produce. Marry, and have children. Then find spouses for them, and have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Pray to the Lord for that city where you are held captive, for if Babylon has peace, so will you.” Jeremiah 29:4-7
Usually, when I comment about Jeremiah 29 it is verse 11: For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” While verse 11 is one of my favorite, sustaining verses, the above text is also good for me to remember. A woman that has a more domineering husband, like mine, will know what I mean when I say, sometimes I feel like I’m a captive. Women that don’t have such a domineering husband will say, “then leave” or “just talk to him, he’ll listen” or “it can’t be that bad,” or “all marriages have problems,” etc. I’m glad that all marriages don’t have the same problems that mine has.
I’m happy that some women have the ability to come and go as they please and don’t have to answer for every little thing. But, for those of us who don’t have the ability to come and go or that have to answer for every little thing, it does feel like captivity. The Israelites were told that they were going to be punished by being taken captive by their enemies and that they would live there for a period of 70 years. But, what is encouraging is that the Lord, through the prophet Jeremiah said that they should “get on with their life, marry, plant, eat, have children and grandchildren.” It also said to pray for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Right after that, the Lord said that He would bring them back and restore them to their land.
Do I pray for the peace and prosperity of my husband? Sometimes I do, but I’m not consistent in this endeavor. What would happen if I were? Here is what I imagine, by praying for him, I would start feeling better about him. Feeling better about him, I would start having a desire to do for him. Doing for him, would cause reciprocal action and it would continue to grow in that type of a cycle. This then would create peace within our home and our hearts, for both of us. My problem, then, is having a desire and enough self-motivation to take that first step and to do the right thing.
The other day I was thinking about Saul’s conversion, especially the conversation between the Lord Jesus and Paul. Acts 9:4-5, And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. (Emphasis added. This is the KJV. The reason I have departed from my normal NLT version is because of the use of words in the KJV in this particular instance.)
I was thinking about my marriage and how I am “kicking against the pricks.” When Jesus used this terminology with Saul, it was obviously meant for Saul’s persecution of the body of believers. What I am applying it to is the convictions of the Word of God in my heart about marriage and how I believe I am to respond to my husband. If the Lord has already convicted me (which He did several years before I met my husband) of submission and obedience to my husband, then why am I having such a hard time doing that which I have already been convicted of.
I guess it is a little like this, I go to school to learn something, let’s say for instance, how to edit a video. I read the textbooks, I listen to the teachers, I learn from other people’s experiences and I shadow a professional. There! I have all the knowledge that I need to be an effective video editor, right? So, with my self assurance in my knowledge of how things are supposed to work, I apply for and get hired in an editing position. My first project is a disaster! Everything that could go wrong, does. What should I have done differently? This is called the learning curve. Just because I know and have convictions, doesn’t mean that I have the experiential knowledge of what it takes to successfully implement the book knowledge that I carry around in my head.
Likewise, my Book knowledge of the commands of Christ are certainly written in my soul. I have been convicted of the scriptural principle of submission to my husband and obedience to him out of the fear of the Lord. Now, I am learning in excruciating detail, the practical knowledge needed to implement said Book knowledge. It is often said “to know a person’s character watch how they react under stress/pressure.” My character is being formed by God’s skilled hands as I go through this challenging time in my life. I am having to learn how to live out my life according to that which I believe. It has been hard in the past and things are definitely getting better, thank and praise God.
But, that doesn’t get me in the clear, I must learn through experience so that when I am faced with an even more excruciating trial in the future, I can already have both the Book knowledge and the experiential knowledge needed to carry me through. I’ve often thought of life on earth as a “boot camp” for heaven. Just think, if I can be successful at applying the Book knowledge in everyday life, in this case submitting and obeying my husband who isn’t perfect and sometimes makes no sense, then how much easier is it going to be to do whatever the Lord Jesus Christ asks me to do when He doesn’t make sense to me, though He is perfect? It should be a breeze shouldn’t it? I think so.
Anyway, I want to stop “kicking against the pricks.” My toes are getting “bruised and bloodied.” I want to instead pray for the peace and prosperity of my “captor.” And then I want to rest in the “shadow of His wings.” I will wait patiently on the Lord and I will still and quiet my spirit. I will do all this through the strength, mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus because without Him, all these things would be impossible on my own.
May God provide the increase.