Once upon a time, a long time ago, a man named Jeremiah wrote a letter. But it wasn’t actually from him.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel,” it began, “to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” And right off the bat, two important things were established: The letter was from God, and so were their circumstances. Though Nebuchadnezzar had taken the people of Israel captive, God plainly says He sent them to Babylon. And not only that, He goes on to tell them to put down roots there. Build homes. Plant gardens. Marry and give in marriage. Seek the welfare of that city. Pray on its behalf.
To a people whose identity was inextricable from the promised land, all of this must have sounded absurd. But the letter from God also explained that, in His time, He would bring them back to Jerusalem. And then? This wonderful, glorious promise:
“I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
And I imagine that those who believed were filled with joy, just as countless others through the centuries have read these same words and rejoiced. No matter how hard, confusing, or heart-breaking things may be now, there are better days ahead. Such comfort!
Sure, some might caution that this promise was written to a specific people for a specific time, and they would be right. They might go on to say that believers today can’t “claim” this promise, because it wasn’t originally intended for them. And in the narrowest sense, they would be right again. But in their strict adherence to context, they would risk losing sight of a big glorious truth that applies to every believer in every place in every generation.
And that truth?
Our God is a God who makes plans for His people, knows what those plans are, and can be fully trusted to accomplish them.
You and I may not be natural descendants of Israel, but if we’ve trusted Christ, we’ve been grafted in. Jeremiah’s God is our God. We are His adopted sons and daughters.
And we are known.
A friend of mine once wondered aloud if perhaps a Psalm 139 level of intimacy was reserved for the King Davids of the world, and my whole soul recoiled at the thought. No, I insisted. That can’t be. The whole of scripture reveals a God who knows. He has written our names in His book, numbers the hairs on our heads, and notices when even one sparrow falls to the ground. He knows our thoughts and words and ways every bit as well as He knew King David’s. He knit us in our mother’s wombs, and ordained our days, and His thoughts toward us outnumber the sand.
We are known.
And this changes everything. Because the God who knows us also loves us and redeems us and welcomes us into His kingdom. When we come to Him, we realize we are not our own. We’ve been bought with a price. We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
It’s not my dream, my career, my ministry. I’ve been crucified with Christ. Mine is to walk in what He has already prepared — the plans He has for me. The plans He knows and has always known.
The more I think about this, the greater my joy grows. The King of the Universe, creator and ruler of all things, knows me and has plans for me. And if this is true, then obedience to Him is my fulfillment. Submission is freedom. When I walk in the good works prepared for me, His light shines, His body is strengthened, He advances His kingdom, and He receives the glory. When I embrace His plan for me — however grand or humble it may be — then I’m free to celebrate His plan for others without envy or competition.
When I know I am known, I long to love and worship and seek Him more. To cease striving and know that He is God. To rest in His sufficiency. To be pliable in the Potter’s hands, a useful vessel for Him.
2014 is shaping up to be a full year, and I’m grateful for every opportunity to declare and celebrate God’s goodness and faithfulness. I’m also grateful for this humbling, amazing truth. I am known. Fully known. And the One who knows me is able to sanctify and anoint and fill with His grace and power to do His work in His beautiful name to His glory.
And the same is true of you. Isn’t it a wonder? Friends, we are known. May we lean into this truth and go forth to do His will rejoicing.