I cursed my city. I cursed them with vile figs.
I started with the best of intentions. But we know what road is paved with those, don’t we? I had planned and prepared for our group to show we care for our community. I challenged the individuals, or family units, to take a few minutes to pray for our home town, our county of about 13,000 residents.
With the help of friends, I picked about 20 locations spread selectively throughout the county. Like Nehemiah 11-12, when they marched around the city walls, celebrating and praying and declaring to the world how faithful and awesome God is, I challenged our people to spread out and do the same.
I made a prayer card with instructions. I put the card in individual 6×9 envelopes. Each envelope had one of the specific sites written out on the cover. I typed out the verse on the prayer card for them to pray when they got to their destination …
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfareJeremiah 29.7 (esv)
Now I know we are not in exile, that this is our home. Many grew up here and some families have been here for generations. But in the big picture, our home is really in heaven. We are just here for a temporary time. So while here, seek the welfare and justice and righteousness for our world. Let’s make it a better place for all of us.
But the best laid plans of mice and men …
I write. A lot. And I know to proofread, proofread, proofread. Read it forward, read it backwards, and reread it. But slips and errors and gaffs will slip in. My grad school thesis was on textual differences and errors and textual criticism based on the Dead Sea Scrolls, so I get it. (Regular readers may question I get it, but typing this blog is so exciting – I get all thumbs on the iPad when typing.)
Here is where I blew it. I did type the correct verse out … but … I put the wrong reference. Instead of Jeremiah 29.7, I put Jeremiah 29.17 …
Thus says the LORD of hosts, behold, I am sending on them sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like vile figs that are so rotten they cannot be eatenJeremiah 29.17 (esv)
It didn’t take long for someone to text me and share the laugh. They got to their site and decided to open their Bible and read it from their text, read out loud straight from God’s Word. And they discovered the extra ‘1’ made a big difference. They laughed … at the situation, but probably at me mostly … as many do, and so do I at times.
It’s weird for me to type this, but I hope most just read the prayer card and don’t open their Bibles. (Just this one time.) I don’t want vile figs for our community. I am not calling for pestilence nor famine. Let’s keep the sword sheathed.
So this Monday, or any day you read this, let’s go above and beyond to bless and not curse. Let’s double our efforts to make this world a better place.
Encourage those around you ~ Comfort those hurting ~ Speak kindness to those feeling downcast ~ Give a smile ~ Share a thanks ~ give the gift of listening to someone who needs to talk ~ Do a random act of kindness to someone that crosses your path ~ Be less sarcastic and snippy and be a lot more loving and graceful.
… seek the welfare of the city where [God has] sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf …