Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
During the year my family and I lived in Chicago, we planted a garden. By God’s grace, this led to an over-the-fence relationship with a neighbor.
God’s prophet Jeremiah relayed the message that God’s people would be in the foreign city of Babylon for many years. The deeper reason behind the command to “plant gardens” could well have been that it takes time to get a good garden going. God wanted his people to put down roots in this city where they would be living for seventy years. God had plans and purposes beyond anything they could have dreaded or imagined.
For whatever length of time God plants us in unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable surroundings, his vision is for much more than our day-to-day existence and passing time. When you put down roots and “seek the peace and prosperity” of any place where God sends you, you will also more likely obey his command to pray for that community.
The promised harvest that comes with a cultivated obedience to this command is that “you too will prosper.” I caught only a glimpse of that during our year in Chicago. But since that time my prayers and vision have been growing. Do you pray for your neighborhood?
Lord of heaven and earth, you have determined the places where we will live. Move us to pray and work for the peace and prosperity of the communities where you have placed us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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