Years ago, my mother gave me a gift-wrapped box and told me to open it. It wasn’t Christmas, and it wasn’t my birthday, so this was an unusual surprise. When I opened the box, I was even more surprised as the gift that she gave was very out of character for my mom. She had taken the time to go to a trophy store and had a plaque made for me. The words on the plaque…God’s Promise Fulfilled. And then she had the infamous passage of Scripture, Jeremiah 29:11-14, etched into the granite. “I know the plans that I have for you,’ ‘declares the Lord.’ ‘plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and I will listen to you. You will find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ ‘declares the Lord,’ ‘and I will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
She went on to tell me that God had given this verse to her for me. She had never seen the verse before, nor had I. This was well before it became a popular evangelical verse (minus the exile part), so the verse and this moment were both quite meaningful to me. For my mom to literally go to a trophy shop and put this together was astounding. However, the little blurb she included was confusing. She named this, “God’s Promise Fulfilled.” But nothing in my life seemed fulfilled. I was struggling with my personal life which, at the time, was a total disaster. I was struggling with a new business that required every drip of daylight, and then I spent most nights staying up and worrying about whether or not it would succeed. If God’s promise was fulfilled, then what was I missing?
She told me to read the entire chapter of Jeremiah 29. I did, and sometime much later, I got it. The idea here was not to find myself at the finish line with amazing success. The idea was that fulfillment was taking the journey. I was to plant, marry, have kids and then have more kids, and build. And I was to bless the place and people around me. And then God would give me His future and His hope. When I realized that, I realized that my business was not mine, but His. And the plans were not mine, but His. And the hope and future would not be mine, but His. When I understood that, everything I did became sacred.
Later this week I will be conducting my mom’s funeral. I will miss her so. But I don’t need anything else from my mom. Because of this one moment, this one gift, I received the key to everything else in my life.
Love you mom…