TITLE: A Double Entendre 1st June 2017
By Elaine Hemingway
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There was no prevarication in Jeremiah’s vocabulary. The weeping prophet spoke his message clearly warning the Israelites of the dangers that lay ahead if they did not heed Yahweh’s words.
It is so easy to compromise especially when our enemy is wanting to distract from the Lord’s will for us.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “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…”
Who do we turn to when we have a problem? The beleaguered Israelites, having been warned by the prophet that Jerusalem would be destroyed and they would be led as captives to Babylon, chose to ignore the message and seek help from surrounding nations.
I remember one day before a full commitment to the Lord when my farmer husband and I had a problem. A drought was burning up our crop and there was a great danger of fire. Farming in Central Africa was and is still, a hazardous business, dependant on seasonal rains We had burnt fire break defences around the maize crops, but knew that a perilous wind could send sparks enough to cause disaster. Clouds were building and there was a chance of rain, but would it fall on our ground? As an innovative farmer, my husband had bought fire rockets and studied the instructions on how to gauge the progression of clouds and anticipate the results of correct cloud penetration. The rockets were expensive, and one had been sitting in our house for some time awaiting an opportunity to try it out.
We set out in the Landrover driving to a neighbouring farm some miles away. The heat was heavy, oppressive, yet dry and relentless. The clouds were dark and dense, scudding along in the direction of our farm. Somewhere behind the clouds was the sun, a purple tinted haze through the blanket of silver grey, while the vegetation drooped its cloying smell of distress as we drove along the dust laden track.
“I’m going to try along here,“ said Louis at last as he pulled into a gap between the bushes. Hauling the rocket out and setting up its launcher took a while and the clouds scudded along at speed. “We just have to hope that we are the right distance and trajectory. If we get rain, and it doesn’t hit us, then it will be Apie who benefits.”
Apie was our closest neighbour, about six miles away from our farm, and just as desperate as we were. He hadn’t dared experiment with a rocket yet, but, a fact I remember well now, he was an elder in the church. We also attended the services when a visiting Dominee came around every three months or so, but did Apie spend more time in prayer I wonder?
Our rocket penetrated the thick wall of a dark cloud, and after a while, as we drove back to our farm, we heard the dull rumble of thunder.
“It’s taken,” Louis exulted, and excitedly we made our way back waiting for the first drops to hit the windshield. Back home we watched the clouds, and also the silver streaks proclaiming a downpour over at Apie’s place. The afternoon melted into sunset which painted the sky a dusky red, and a farm labourer, cycling past one of our fields, flicked a stump of his brown paper rolled weed cigarette onto the path. That is what we surmised when we were called to put out the blaze. Apie, with others in the vicinity, came to help, bringing a horde of labourers to beat the bush with sacking and unrolled emergency hoses on farm trailers to prevent more spread. The rain circled after that and in relief we watched the showers starting to fall.
“Praise the Lord,” I heard someone say, and I agreed, but hadn’t called on Him myself. Neither had Louis - we were still hedging on the brink and full commitment was a long way ahead. We had tried to solve the problem ourselves. Beating about the bush was an experience we had knowledge of in the wrong way.
I am so glad that Jeremiah speaks across the centuries, and tells us “I know the plans I have for you …” and doesn’t give up on those who are luke-warm. He holds us on strong elastic and draws us gently back. To be within His will is vital and not to be missed.
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