16 April 2020


During this pandemic, I have now understood the temptation and the reality of binge-watching shows on TV.  Do you have a favorite platform – Netflix, the new Disney+ or perhaps Amazon Prime?  On any streaming service, I’m a sucker for documentaries and westerns! 

By way of confession, I’ve been watching the 1989 TV series, “The Young Riders” – it’s a lot of fun!  But if I’m not careful, one or two episodes can turn into 5 or 6...and my backside makes a firm impression into my couch!  Laziness can easily kick in. 

Funny how something so seemingly innocuous as watching a western came to my mind as I continued my Journey with Jeremiah this week!  God gave the prophet a pretty strange illustration, and although I’ve read this book many times, I must admit, I never remembered this obscure incident!  Take a look:

        This is what the LORD said to me: "Go and buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch water." 2  So I bought a belt, as the LORD directed, and put it around my waist. 3  Then the word of the LORD came to me a second time:
        4  "Take the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist, and go now to Perath and hide it there in a crevice in the rocks." 5  So I went and hid it at Perath, as the LORD told me.
        6  Many days later the LORD said to me, "Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there." 7  So I went to Perath and dug up the belt and took it from the place where I had hidden it, but now it was ruined and completely useless. (Jeremiah 13:1-7 NIV)

I stopped here and wondered out loud, “Why, Lord, would You give such a strange assignment to Jeremiah?  You take a perfectly good belt and destroy it!  What’s the point?”  Keep reading:

        8  Then the word of the LORD came to me: 9  "This is what the LORD says: 'In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10  These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt--completely useless!
        11  For as a belt is bound around a man's waist, so I bound the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to me,' declares the LORD, 'to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened.'  (Jeremiah 13:8-11 NIV)  I marveled at this illustration’s many facets!

First, I see just how longsuffering God is with His people.  Time after time, God gives warnings and exhortations to return to Him: “I love you and want you to be close to Me!” 

I’m reminded of the encouragement we find in 2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (NIV, emphasis mine) 

God excels at giving us time to come to Him so we can be with Him and enjoy His company!  How might you thank Him for His longsuffering with you today – all so you can spend time with Him?  And that leads to the second purpose. 

God wants to remind us that we are so susceptible to pride – at its core, the attitude of “I know better than You do, Lord.”  Oh, and how left unchecked, this will rot us away from the inside out! 

All it takes is time... stewing in the attitude of self-centeredness, and yes, even my laziness.  Are there areas of your life filled with pride that you might confess to Him and change right now?

That’s when my western came to mind, and I was convicted.  “Of course I need another few hours sitting here in mindless entertainment! I deserve it!”  Now, I’m not bashing your Netflix binge. 

But for me, I realized I can easily miss time with the Lord.  He wants to love and equip me to be His instrument for good in challenging world!  Ah, and that’s the final insight.  The belt represents His people – Israel, Judah, and now us!

Our purpose is to cling to Him!  Oh, how I love God’s design for us – to be that close, that intimate, that we are wrapped around Him!  We are to be His people who give glory to Him – to show Him off and how good He is – so others will praise Him!  I have purpose and meaning in life... God desires me!  Take confidence in that today as you lean into Him.

Lord, I want to listen to You calling me today!  I want to set aside my heart of pride and spend some time hearing Your voice in Your Word.  Remind me when I get lazy or complacent to draw deep from You, the Source of Life!  And help me cling to You anew today, in Jesus’ precious name, amen!

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