Jeremiah 29:11-13 “’For I know the plans that I have for You.’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.’”

Observation: Jeremiah 29 is a letter Jeremiah wrote to the Jews in Babylonian captivity. Countering false prophets who were saying their captivity would be brief, Jeremiah said that it would be seventy years. He told them to build houses, plant vineyards, and plan to be there for a while. He told them to pray for Babylon, “for in its welfare you will have welfare” (see Jer. 29:4–10).

Then comes this wonderful passage where God promises breakthrough. He reminded them that they were in a hard place by His hand, but while it seems for a season like calamity, it is really a place designed by Him for their welfare. There are essential lessons that need learning, and God knew they would be learned only in the context of great difficulty. But His promise was if they will pray to Him, He will listen. If they seek Him with their whole heart, they will find Him.

Application: Whole heart? What is that? It sounds important, but how can I tell when I have achieved more than half-heartedness or even quarter-heartedness? Here’s a horrifying thought: maybe I am stuck at one-tenth-heartedness and don’t even know it. The awful realization is there is in the kingdom a heartedness scale. Worse yet, God is always able to break the code to assess where I am on the scale.

But verse 14 gives me hope: “’I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’” He promises that I will know when I have finally broken free from what binds me. My captivity may seem long, but it will be overcome when I have achieved whole-hearted pursuit of Him. I will be restored when I have pressed through successfully into the fulness of His kingdom. All that’s required is that I stop fighting against His disciplines, and pursue Him with a whole heart.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that I have lived long enough to see examples of this in my own life: wholeheartedness resulting in Your bringing deliverance from bondage. You have probably noticed, though, that work remains to be done in other areas of my life. I am encouraged today to press in afresh, to seek You again with my whole heart, that every last vestige of captivity will be overcome. Thank You for that wonderful promise.