I was never supposed to see tomorrow. I knew it long ago. Since I was about 23, actually. It was like I had been given a prophecy. I would die when I turned 32. Tomorrow is my 33rd birthday.
For a long time, though, I had this nagging feeling that I would die when I was 32. This voice that told me that I wouldn’t make it past that age was reassuring in some ways. I had no desire to live – and, some would argue, that what I was experiencing at the time certainly wasn’t considered living – so in a lot of ways it was a goal that I worked towards.
It’s hard to explain just how overwhelming this sense was. This isn’t just some thought that popped into my head one day. It went with me everywhere, replaying in my mind everyday. The more drugs I consumed in hopes to dull the reality of the world around me, the more clearly I heard: “You will die when you’re 32.” I longed for that day.
On July 5, 2013, I turned 32. And a few things have happened the last 365 days. I officially graduated with an MDiv, I became an ordained minister (you can call me Reverend now), I have become the official acting pastor of my church, and my wife and I just celebrated 5 years of marriage – this year easily being our best year of marriage. A lot has happened in this year that was not supposed to be.
Lots of people claim Jeremiah 29:11 over their life, or the life of others, when faced with difficulty in life:
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. (NLT)
It’s a nice verse. But of course, it was written to a specific group of people, at a specific time. God’s chosen people, who had turned their backs on YHWH. As a result of their sin & rebellion they found themselves at the mercy of their enemies. They found themselves exiled to Babylon, taken from their land, uprooted, and in despair. It was in the midst of this exile that God promises His people, “Don’t worry! I have a plan for you.” The plan, however, is contingent on a few things.
In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” (Jer 29:12-14).
I had spent years in captivity, a result of my rebellion. I placed myself there willingly time and time again. It was not a fun place to be. But then something happened: I looked for God wholeheartedly. No compromising anymore. I sought God and sought to live according to His Word, and then . . . I found Him (or He found me). I prayed to God and He listened to me. He brought me out of captivity and He restored my fortunes. I am a testament to God’s faithfulness. Even if I die before tomorrow.