My first experience with someone using the term "life verse" was about nine years ago at our church in Tracy. I was standing in the lobby after a Sunday service when a seasoned mother in her violet, flowered blouse and flowy khakis leaned up against the doors that open to the sanctuary. Her smile warmed and she sweetly told me about her life verse. She quoted parts of Isaiah 60 fluidly from her heart. It was obvious that these verses were dear to her, and the Lord used them to draw her to Himself. I wondered how she decided on that chapter or how God revealed it to her.
Fast forward to April 2016, when I began receiving group emails from families who have chosen for their kids to missionally attend their nearby public schools (see Duck, Duck School Part 1 and Part 2). The emails were outlined thoughtfully, with planning, next steps, and updates on interviews they have had with public school principals. They also cited biblical guideposts for making this decision: Nehemiah 1:1-4, Isaiah 6:8, Matthew 19:24, Acts 16:6-10, Jeremiah 29:4-7 and John 3:16.
Now, my heart leapt at Jeremiah 29:4-7. It's a passage that I feel gets overlooked for its famous brother, 29:11. In 4-7, the prophet Jeremiah encourages the exiled Jews in Babylon:
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 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 welfare.”
These verses have been a huge encouragement to me in times when I felt the city where we lived was not our final destination. God was telling me to dig in and invest, regardless of my duration in that city. And now the Lord is showing me that even though Fresno is our final destination – we bought a home and are building community with friends – Fresno is not our final destination, as we look forward to eternity in heaven. In the meantime, we need to dig in here. Invest. By choosing to attend our neighborhood school we have the opportunity to put His Word into action.
So maybe, just maybe, the fact that this passage grips my heart and squeezes its chambers close to bursting, is it possible that maybe, just maybe, this is my life verse?
When the Lord uses His Word to get our attention at such a personal level, as my Tracy friend confidently conveyed, His sovereignty is on display. I can trust where He's leading us, even if it is into the muddy waters of engaging the culture.
Read more about our journey in Part 4.