Now, I know I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to claim this verse as near and dear to my heart, full of special meaning and significance. But, this is the story of the how and the why this verse came to hold such a place of value in my life.
Bruce and I had just started dating. We had probably had a half a dozen dates in a 2 month period, with lots of casual interactions and many late night phone sessions interspersed. We were falling in love and falling hard. But we were both scared.
With good reason. We'd both suffered through some traumatic experiences in our previous marriages, so understandably we were filled with caution and fear. Can I trust you? Will you hurt me? Are we supposed to be together? Is this God's plan for me? For us?
In the short time we'd been together, we were both striving, in our walk with Jesus, to be more committed to following Him. We'd both made mistakes in our pasts, following the desires of the flesh rather than God's divine plan for our lives. So it was good that we were questioning the pull we were feeling to be together.
One conversation in particular sticks with me. We'd come home from a date and were sitting in his car in my driveway. We'd been waxing eloquent about our futures (me, secretly envisioning what it would be like to be married to him, he, without a clue as to my thoughts, was outlining his 5, 10 and 15 year plan.)
At one point Bruce said "I just wish I knew what God had planned for me. I wish I knew His intentions." to which I responded, "It would be nice, wouldn't it, if God would just drop us a postcard now and then with some promises about our futures."
About 2 weeks later my mother and I went to California to visit her sister and my sister. Family reunion time! One evening, I sat on my aunt's bed, sharing a bit about this man I had been seeing, even telling her about the trepidation with which we were approaching this romance. As we chatted, I idly picked up this little flip calendar that sat on her night stand. It was one of those perpetual calendars, that has a quote or scripture verse for each day. The page that it was on was not the correct one for that day. In fact it was dated for March 20th, which was the day Bruce and I had our first date. And the featured verse was Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Chills run up and down my spine even now when I recall this holy moment, when time stood still for one brief second and I felt the warmth of God's love resting on my heart. I knew without a doubt this was for US. I could not wait to tell Bruce about it.
I wrote him a long letter later that night, posting it the next morning; it would arrive before I got home. When we later got together, and the excitement of being reunited had slowed, we talked about the letter I had sent him and the verse. He felt the same way I had when he read it for the first time. Neither one of us had been familiar with this verse until now. (we just hadn't gotten around to reading that book of the bible yet!!) We both believed this verse was a confirmation of our relationship and it helped us push past the fear and a new depth of our love was founded that day.
We used that verse for our wedding; it was the passage we chose for our pastor to speak on for the wedding meditation. We have clung to that verse in times of trouble, cherished the promise in times of celebration and shared it with many others over the years.
I was in the Family Bookstore looking for a book when I meandered past the jewelry display and as usual I had to look closer. And there it was! Rings! Sterling silver, slim and delicate with the words inscribed in a swirling design. Well, of course I had to have it!
Even better is the fact that last year I had given my WWJD thumb ring to a gypsy woman I met while in Macedonia, (read about that under May 2010 Monday Morning Macedonia)
and since then my thumb has felt a little bare!
this picture doesn't do it justice but...
well there you have it folks... our story of Jer. 29:11.