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"Build ye houses"

From the March 1989 issue of The Christian Science Journal

The land was beautiful. Five acres with southern pines. A good place to build a house in the country, raise our family, and plant a garden— goals we'd long cherished. But was it what God had in store for us? Was buying this land a spiritually progressive decision?

The realtor left with our offer to take to the land's seller, along with another party's offer. I picked up my Bible from the table and prayed silently—the earnest, longing, wholehearted, trusting kind of prayer that reaches out to understand God. "Thy will be done, Father," I remember thinking. "If this is not a God-directed step, I want no part of it." I prayed to understand whatever spiritual lesson was in this experience. For one quiet moment I declared God's presence in this decision—His ever-presence in all that is really going on. I listened with my heart and turned to the Bible. It fell open to Jeremiah 29, and my eyes rested on verse 5: "Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them."

How clearly the Father answers earnest prayer! As wonderful as this message was, I could not let it end there. I must understand thoroughly the meaning. I researched Jeremiah 29:5 and its surrounding verses. I discovered that this passage was written by Jeremiah to the children of Israel when they were in exile, in captivity in Babylonia. They wanted desperately to return to their homeland but couldn't. Jeremiah's message to them was, Pray for the welfare of the city in which you find yourselves; settle and lead normal lives in Babylonia. Jeremiah cautioned his people not to be deceived by false hopes of a return, but rather to seek God right where they were and they would find Him and home. He taught them no false allegiance to place.

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