One night this week I wanted to make up for a really hurried and stressed-out good night visit the night before, so I read the boys a comforting bible verse before I prayed for them. The book of Jeremiah didn’t really even register in my verse-knowing repertoire until some time in college when I heard this one. Since then, I’ve heard Jeremiah 29:11 more than almost any other. It’s one of those verses kind of snatched from a very specific moment in Israelite history that we apply to our own individual lives now. But the words, if we can apply them that way, are extremely comforting.
‘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.’
I don’t want to talk about the times I’ve burst into tears on Mom’s shoulder because maybe this verse wasn’t true at all. The times when I could see as plain as cancer and death and murder and sadness, that it can’t possibly be true for everyone.
Instead I want to talk about what John said next. He said, “That is a good prayer, because tonight when I was running with Papa, I was feeling really tired. And we had only gone one mile. And I was thinking about how much I want to be a professional athlete, and how I’ve heard that during spring training and stuff they run a lot, and it’s really hard. And I was wondering if I’m going to be able to be on one of those teams.”
I could not believe the intensity of his thoughts. I knew he wanted to be a professional athlete, but I thought he was still in that stage like how Jake sometimes thinks he’s a dinosaur and Drew doesn’t know what the heck he wants to do. But, no, he thinks about it and worries about it and wonders if he can make the cut during spring training.
I felt so sad for him. Do you know the percentage of little boys who grow up to actually be on professional athletic teams? I don’t, and neither does Michael – but we have an idea because we had an argument about it that not even google could settle. It seems to be very, very small – that percentage. And I wondered when John’s thoughts about spring training will turn into an all out reality check in which he ends up perusing college handbooks for business degrees and other depressing plan Bs.
Two things I’m thinking. One: I hope I never miss it when my children weigh such grownup thoughts. And Two: I hope they always make it through those moments when it seems like Jeremiah 29:11 isn’t true.