These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to 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:I am in exile. I feel somehow like this is a confession, or a disservice to the choice that I made. After all, we made a decision as a family to be in Korea for this year. And yet, I can't really get around it. As friendly as this place is, I look different than my neighbors, I speak a different language and, as awesome as the internet is, my own community is distant.
Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they 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.
I have not spent any of my time here wallowing in homesickness or self pity at being 'exiled.' The opposite is true. I have kept busy exploring my neighborhood, going for runs, doing the grocery shopping, the bill paying the child-caring. I have been spending time studying Korean and making new friends.
But I was on the verge of self pity this morning, after a somewhat sleepless night, and an exhausting last few days with Naomi, who is increasingly whiny and stubborn and boundary-testing. (She has no trouble at all wallowing in homesickness and self pity.) Then I read Joe S.'s blog, and Jeremiah's word from YHWH to "seek the peace of the city where I have sent you into exile...for in its welfare you will find your welfare."
Not only did this text remind me that my welfare is tied to this place and its people - I had been active and engaged (more or less) in the community - it reminded me that I am here not only because of a decision that Joe and I made, but by the leading of a God who calls and sends, even to places distant to those we call home. And in all my busy-busy home-making and settling in and Korean study, I have not spent any time dwelling in the word or presence of the One in whose name I came. No wonder I complain of not feeling Presence when I am not making myself present.
Sure enough, I was doing the practical part of YHWH's instruction to the exile - to me - sending my daughter to a local preschool, exploring the local customs and language, engaging people. I have been dwelling in this place but not in the One who brought me here. Now, who knows, this self revelation may not make me any more likely to be prone to wallowing, but I think it's kept me from it for today. May the One who calls and sends be both comfort and inspiration.