The gift came wrapped in a jersey knit t-shirt. Size 6X. Unusual packaging, to be sure. But my little girl didn’t care. Across the front of the shirt spread the seven letters of her name. Like a banner.
“It’s for me!” She smiled.
As we unwrapped the shirt to see the gift inside, we found a notebook, colorful pens, a Bible and a card. The card caught my eye. I wanted to know what kind of person would go to such lengths for my girl.
“Here is the Bible for you! I hope you will read it every day. I highlighted my favorite verse for you—it’s Jeremiah 29:11 on p. 859. I know God has special plans for you because this verse says He does.
I loved being your teacher at church this year. You are a super special girl!
Love, Mrs. Johnson
Holy hot tears. Her Sunday school teacher couldn’t have known the story behind my girl. Didn’t understand the loss and struggle that’s defined her short life, nor her daily scraping and clawing for reassurance of her value. And yet we stood in our kitchen, holding a card filled with the very words she needed to hear. God bless her. It couldn’t have been more precious to me if the Almighty himself delivered it.
Perhaps He did.
“What’s the verse say, Mommy?”
Knowing Jeremiah’s words, I cracked open the Bible’s cover. “How about we look it up together?”
I first turned to the table of contents. “This is where we look for the name of the book—Jeremiah.”
Her little finger scrolled down the list of sixty-six names, searching for the one that started with a “J.”
“Here it is!” She smiled, triumphant.
“Now, turn to page number 689. Yes, exactly. Good job.”
She turned slowly, reverently, until she found page 689 and “Jeremiah” in big, bold letters.
“Now search for the big numbers, like this.” I pointed to chapter one. “Keep going until you get to twenty-nine …”
“…Then search the small numbers until you get to 11.”
“One, two, three, four …” She counted verse by verse until she landed on eleven, highlighted in hot pink by a teacher who didn’t want her to miss it.
“There it is!” She announced, pointing, so very proud.
“Now read it,” I smiled. “You can do it. Go ahead.”
And with that, my seven-year-old girl read one of the most quoted verses of the entire Bible.
“‘Plans to prosper you,’ sweetheart. Not perspire.” I pursed my lips, trying to swallow my smirk. “And it’s ‘future,’ not furniture.”
She nodded, understanding. But then I thought: I like her version better.
As good as it is, you and I both know this life can be exhausting and so very hard. Perspiration-inducing, actually. Some days I long for heaven, and wish, wish, wish today was the day Jesus would come back and take all the tears away.
But another day ends without his coming in the clouds. And I resolve myself to wait some more.
Which is why a solid piece of furniture would come in handy. Something to collapse into while we wait for rescue. Something secure that surrounds us with safety and rest.
Something like the presence of One who knows what we need and sends His words of reassurance in a Sunday school teacher’s card.
Read whichever version of Jeremiah 29:11 that you like. But as for me, I’m sticking with the SYOV (Seven Year Old Version). Because even though this life brings us to sweat and tears, the God who loves us and wears our name like a banner has promised a safe place to land.
A hope and furniture.
Is your faith life a safe place to land? How so?