“I will be found by you.” I contemplated the letter. Such an odd phrase: “I will be found by you.” As if all my searching, all my effort, culminated in an act of his will. It was not your typical invitation at the very least. His plans! What use did I have for his plans? After all, mine went along the same lines: prosperity, hope, a future. Everything he offered I already planned for myself. What more could he add? That he would listen? Ha! He already had far too many people to listen to. I put the invitation back in its envelope and left it on my desk. Life went on.

            Things went well. Very well, indeed. I moved forward with my plans with only a reasonable number of bumps and bruises. I prospered. I set aside enough for a reasonable retirement. And I had hope. Mostly hope that someday all my plans would make a real, solid difference. Maybe for my kids, maybe for the community, maybe even the whole world. Yeah, I hoped a lot. I hoped for the health to enjoy my retirement. I hoped for my kids to turn out okay. I hoped for the economy to stay strong. I had hope. I had better than hope, I had security. 

                        One day, one of my well-laid plans fell through. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t recover from. Just a little thing, really. But it was enough. I got tired of the daily grind. Weary, really, of doing all the things I needed to do to carry-out my plans. Why not try his way for a while? I had nothing better to do. It might make me feel better, if nothing else.

            I pulled out the letter. “I will be found by you.” What did that mean anyway? I ignored it and looked for something easier to understand. The letter also said, “come.” So, I went. Every week I went, twice a week, three times a week even. It felt good. A nice, squishy, “I’m doing something respectable,” feeling. Pleasant.

            Otherwise, life went on as usual. I recovered from the little stumble and continued with my plans. Only now I went, too.

            Then it happened.

            It devastated my life.

            Suddenly my plans became meaningless. Turns out they never had any meaning to begin with. I plunged into the proverbial pit. It stayed there for a long time before I remembered the letter. I decided maybe his plans might work as well as mine. Better, since he had more experience than I. Then that phrase came to mind. I got mad. I did what the stupid letter said! It said, “come,” and I went! More time wasted!

            I stayed angry until I was too tired to be angry anymore. I just wanted to rest. But I couldn’t! My futile endeavors to get back the life I planned kept me too busy to rest. Finally I gave up. It was too much. I was broken and despairing.

            So I opened the letter. I went to that part about his plans. He said, “hope.” I cried. I wanted hope so badly. I read those words again, “I will be found by you.” One last wave of rebellion swelled and tried to wash over me, but I moved away from it. I couldn’t let stubbornness rob me of even just the hope of hope.

            I read the letter again. I wanted to understand that phrase. I liked his plans, but how could I carry them out if I couldn’t find him? I searched for clues. I pondered his letter during every free moment. I even asked other people about it. I needed to understand that phrase. Not much mattered to me besides that one phrase.

            Then I found it. I searched hard for the answer and I finally found it. It stared me in the face the whole time but I never understood until that moment. And there he was. An act of his will, not mine, but somehow without violating my own free will. He held out a bright, beautiful future. He gave me a wealth I never dreamed of. He gave me hope that went so far beyond my simple hopes of the past that I felt ready to burst with it. But the sweetest thing! The sweetest thing was hearing his voice speak those words.

            “I have been found by you.”

            For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 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 seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, Jeremiah 29:11-14a NIV

Pilgrim in a Rocky Valley, by Carl Gustav Carus, 1820

Pilgrim in a Rocky Valley, by Carl Gustav Carus, 1820