Still Serving Time
By Lori Stewart
I taught school for 14 years. Before year 13 got underway, I decided it would be my last year. I was ready to make a career change and go to grad school. Year 13 seemed like the longest school year of my life. When June finally came, I happily resigned and prepared to move across the country. It was the summer of 2006, the now-infamous year the housing bubble burst. We couldn’t sell our house; so, I humbly asked for my job back.
Year 14 was incredibly difficult, as my heart was no longer in teaching. I became desperate for the strength and will to teach my classes each day with a good attitude. After putting so much hope into my future plans, I was back to lesson plans, grading papers, and parent-teacher conferences. I was still teaching.
Jeremiah 33 begins with Jeremiah “still confined in the courtyard of the guard.” During this time, the Lord gives him a message, “Ask of me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.” (vs. 3)
Don’t you love that verse? I’ve heard Jeremiah 33:3 quoted repeatedly throughout my life. However, I never noticed that God offered that extraordinary promise while Jeremiah was still in confinement.
What was Jeremiah doing under palace guard? In the 18th year of King Nebuchadnezzar, Jerusalem was under siege by his Babylonian army. At that time, King Zedekiah of Judah put Jeremiah under palace guard because he didn’t like what the prophet was saying. Jeremiah continuously prophesied doom and destruction for King Zedekiah and Jerusalem.
Time passed. Jeremiah refused to change his prophecy, and we find the prophet is still in confinement.
Can you relate? Perhaps you’re following God’s will and even preaching God’s word. Nevertheless, it feels like you’re being punished.
Maybe you feel like you are still in confinement.
Maybe you are still waiting for your “prison” break.
Maybe you are still desperate to hear from God.
Not only was Jeremiah still confined, but his confinement forced him to be still. A few important take-aways can be gleaned from this passage.
First, in that prison-like place, God’s voice became clear to Jeremiah. The same goes for us. We need to utilize that quiet place of so-called confinement as a time to hear from God. Some of the greatest writings we have in Christianity are from people who were sick or in prison—Watchman Nee, John Bunyan, Martin Luther, Catherine Marshall, and the apostle Paul. Being temporarily “benched” gave them the time and the clarity to write words inspired by the Holy Spirit, the One who speaks in that “still, small voice.”
Also, if we surrender during times of confinement, God’s ultimate purpose is to give us a deeper revelation of Jesus. As the Lord’s message continues to Jeremiah, God begins to reveal the coming Messiah.
“In those days. . . I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will do what is just and right.” (Jer. 33:15)
Talk about a remarkable secret! There is no greater revelation than a revelation of Jesus Christ! Jeremiah’s prophecy that began with doom and gloom shifts to salvation, restoration, and a new Jerusalem!
For me, teaching in year 14 felt like I was still in confinement. There was only one thing that helped. Each morning I would crawl under my desk and beg God for His help. I taped papers under my desk and wrote prayers, scriptures, and inspirational quotations on them. (This became humorous one day during an intruder drill; when the alert sounded, the students quietly hid under a desk as I shut the blinds and locked the doors. One of the seniors crawled under my desk. She whispered loudly, “Mrs. Stewart, what’s all these notes written underneath your desk?”)
Those mornings under my desk proved life changing. I learned to be still and wait upon the Lord. Jesus revealed himself to me each morning. Sometime He was “Teacher,” “Mighty-God,” “Strong-tower and Refuge,” “Creative-idea God,” “Shield and defender,” Lover of my soul”—whatever I needed that day, Jesus proved more than enough. Not only that, but I now consider year fourteen one of my favorite years as I had the privilege of teaching some of my all-time favorite students.
If you’re still in confinement, choose to be still in God’s presence. You can expect a revelation of Jesus and a new, sweet intimacy with Him that will make your prison time worthwhile!
Lori Stewart © 2011, printed with permission
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Lori Stewart is the guest segment producer at The 700 Club. She’s also a pastor’s wife and Creative Director at 3n1 Church in Suffolk, Va. She and her husband Matt have three teenagers and a Rhodesian ridgeback, Roxy. When Lori gets inspired, she writes for her blog, www.thepastorswifesurvivalguide.blogspot.com. She enjoys date nights, movies, bargain shopping, and hanging out with her kids.
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