Look For The Writing On The Wall



“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not your woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

The first time I read this verse I was several hours into a job interview that would change my life. I flew from Ohio to Texas to meet with a group of gentlemen from a large company. The “interview” took all day and moved me in and out of several different offices and even through a couple of restaurants.

At one point, I sat across from the manager who wanted to hire me. He was telling me what a nice addition to his team I would make. Something caught my eye; I looked over and saw the quote hanging on a cubicle wall. I chose to take it as a sign – a confirmation – and said yes to his offer. Saying yes, however, meant packing up my family and moving across country, away from the only comfort zone I ever knew.

And you know what? Every detail of the relocation fell right into place. Our tiny “starter” home sold in just two weeks, in the middle of winter! The transplant of our lives was not without challenge, but in hindsight flowed with God’s choreography.

We all have our own plans: business plans, wedding plans, vacation plans, five-year plans, ten-year plans, retirement plans, etc. However, none of those plans will ever be as “meaningful” as God’s plans are for us. We are made on purpose – our place in time is no accident.

Time has often reminded me that believing in this scripture verse was not just sound business advice, but a huge blessing to me and my family. The blessing was not just the career move, but the relocation as well. And the man who hired me became a great mentor to me and a true friend.

So how do we know what the plan is for us? How do we figure out if any of our plans are THE plans? That is our common challenge. That is where our common faith, as Catholic professionals, comes in.

In my life and career, the only tool I found to decode the mystery is prayer. ASK Him. God will let us know the answers in His time.  And yes, unfortunately I am admitting and advocating the requirement and practice of patience, along with our prayers. Waiting on answers to prayer can be maddening, especially to those of us that live in a hectic, drive-through culture.  We value speed.  We demand instant gratification (is there any other kind?). We forget that, even though Jesus taught that if we ask we will receive, He never said we would receive right away.

And yet, there isn’t a single one of us that would not benefit from more prayer. From Pope Francis all the way down to me. Prayer is the glue that holds our first and most primary relationship together. So if we remain patient and open-minded, He will alert us when the time comes.

Who knows, He may even post a sign on the wall.

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17 thoughts on “Look For The Writing On The Wall”

  1. You know what? Even if an angel appears with a message for you, or an apparition claiming to be the Blessed Virgin Mary, it is very important to test the spirits (1 John 4:1). I know good Catholics who have fallen into superstitious practices, like looking for roses as a sign that St. Therese is blessing whatever they want to do or are undecided about. The situation is not unlike what I noticed when I was in Arlington, VA, while the DC sniper(s) were loose: the police said a white box truck or van had been seen at the scene of the crimes, and sure enough, at any random time, I could find at least one white box truck or van parked on or driving down the nearby street. It is likewise just about always possible to see a rose, or maybe the color rose, or the scent of a rose, or a mention of a rose, if that’s what you are really looking for.

    We have our general orders. Under most circumstances, I think we are expected to implement them on our own initiative. We are supposed to be men and women, sons and daughters, not mere puppets.

  2. . The problem is though….God promised those Jews earthly rewards in their covenant…e.g. the obedient Jewess would not miscarry ( Exodus 23:26 …” There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land”.) Yet after Christ…many Catholic women have miscarried. We are not promised with the identical promises of the Sinai Covenant. If they obeyed God, the next verse says: ” I will make all your enemies turn their back to you”. Christians have died in battle for centuries. The caveat is that the Jews flirted with idolatry for centuries and the flip side of that passage obtained and they were sent into exile beneath enemy power.
    This morning I was reading yahoo headlines and in one state, a baby girl was beaten to death by an eight year old boy. The Jeremiah quote seems not applicable to that girl unless you then proceed to the spiritual level and our hope in her being with God. Likewise in PA last week, one car was disabled by a deer to the shoulder of the road but then burst into flames when rearended by another vehicle…those in the car were burned to death. Again only in the spiritual level can it be said their future was full of hope. Perhaps we can say that in most cases, God’s plan is not for woe but for a good future even here on earth. But the atrocities are daily like the over one thousand Yasidi women sexually enslaved by ISIS as you and I proceed in a good earthly season at least now. The Jeremiah passage is not outdated in all respects but after Christ, the passage has caveats because this dispensation after Christ actually has more qualified promises by God because dangers will increase as Christ noted…” there will be wars and the rumors of war and earthquakes and famines in various places…these are the beginning of sorrows.” If I’m a wet blanket herein…so is Christ. Keep the Jeremiah passage in your mind but remember it underwent change in the passing of the old covenant into the new wherein now spiritual future good dominates over earthly security good.

    1. Laurence Charles Ringo

      Now THAT is how you exegete a Biblical passage!…Great stuff,Elijah fan!! (Are you a theologian? If you aren’t,you should be!)

    2. An investor and an oil painter of the ocean….but may God bless you really…really. …for affirming people which is every bit as important as passage expounding. You are rare in this time of the nine ungrateful lepers.

    3. Actually, you should note that the passage you quote was not a covenant between an “obedient Jewess” and God, but between the nation of Israel as a whole and God. And as the Old Testament makes abundantly clear, the nation of Israel never fully lived up to the terms of the covenant. In that regard, of course, they were no worse than any other nation — my own ancestors must have been strangling human sacrifices in northern marshes and burning them alive in wicker effigies — but it is important not to blame God for the problems that they had or that we have.

    4. So you are saying that an obedient Jewess could still have a miscarriage if other Jews were acting disobedient? You may believe that. I think God is more individual intimate. I don’t believe your implied view and I already mentioned their disobedience and exile under foreign power.

    5. It’s about sacrilege which is separate from normal disobedience. It is the only case where God kills individuals or limited groups and before you think of exceptions look close. God kills Sodom only when they try to rape the two heavenly figures. God kills Uzzah for touching the ark; kills the sons of Heli for abusing the priesthood; kills 72 descendants of Jeconiah for not greeting the ark; kills Onan for risking the non appearance of Christ ( the mega offense behind his contraception); kills Herod in Acts 12 for accepting the name ” god” from the crowd; kills Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit.
      And gives Hannah a child for her individual righteousness.

    6. You are an American, and Americans believe strongly in individualism. Corporate responsibility, not so much. This is probably because America was founded by Protestants, and each is his own little pope.

      So what you are doing is substituting your own vision for the Word of God. God did not say that he any obedient Jewess would never suffer a miscarriage, but you wish He had said it, you think it’s what He must have really meant, so we’re all expected to step back and applaud while you apply the white out to Scripture and write in what you wish had been written originally. I don’t think you understood that this is what you are doing, but this is exactly what you were doing. Stop now before you become a full-blown heretic.

      And yes, there is a heresy that you are headed for: Pelagianism. You think it isn’t fair that a Jewess might suffer a miscarriage because other Jews are not observant? How then can it be fair that we are each born estranged from God because Adam sinned?! Pelagius rejected that idea, and affirmed very strongly that “God is more individual intimate”, as you say, so that the only thing that alienates a person from God is that individual’s personal sin.

      I am also an American, so I share many of your prejudices. It does not seem fair that someone should have to suffer for another’s sins. (Why you have no issue with the unborn child of a faithless Jewess suffering for her sins, I am not sure.) All I can say is that we see this all the time, not only in our own world, but in the Old Testament as well. When David numbered the Israelites, the whole nation suffered. When he had adultery with Bathsheba, it was the baby who paid with his little life. It works the other way, too, though. It is not “fair” that Jews should be blessed because of the faith of Abraham, but they were.

      Son of man, when a land shall sin against me, so as to transgress grievously, I will stretch forth my hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof: and I will send famine upon it, and will destroy man and beast out of it. And if these three men, Noe, Daniel, and Job, shall be in it: they shall deliver their own souls by their justice, saith the Lord of hosts. And if I shall bring mischievous beasts also upon the land to waste it, and it be desolate, so that there is none that can pass because of the beasts: If these three men shall be in it, as I live, saith the Lord, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters: but they only shall be delivered, and the land shall be made desolate. Or if I bring the sword upon that land, and say to the sword: Pass through the land: and I destroy man and beast out of it: And these three men be in the midst thereof: as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they themselves alone shall be delivered. Or if I also send the pestilence upon that land, and pour out my indignation upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast: And Noe, and Daniel, and Job be in the midst thereof: as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter: but they shall only deliver their own souls by their justice.

      Understand how shocking this was; Moses had been able to intervene on their behalf several times, and basically no one lives up to the standards of Noe, Daniel, and Job.

    7. Was all that meant to cover up Hannah to whom God gave five children after she vowed during a time period so sinful that Eli’s sons were using the priesthood to get sex and so sinful that Eli thought Hannah was drunk simply because she was praying without volume as millions do now in church. Bye bye Howard. I’m off to non net life.

    8. Enjoy real life. Since you ask, though, of course not. Hannah’s example does not contradict anything I have been saying. The traditional view — not the American view — is that both personal and corporate sin and holiness play a role. Your belief that it’s just “you and God” has no support in either experience of Scripture.

    9. Hannah’s example totally refutes you and supports my original obedient Jewess assertion.
      The Sinai promise is affirmed by God in her while she lived next to the sons of Eli’s sin….for which God killed them. You’re wrong because you have a paradigm you can’t let go of…like I can’t let go of this chicken leg right now. Bye.

    10. Wrong.

      You say that God’s promise is that no faithful Jewess would suffer a miscarriage. You insist on this even though that is not what Scripture states. If you insist on changing Scripture to make it suit your purpose, you are no better than Martin Luther inserting the word “alone” in Romans 1:17 because, of course, he “knew what it really meant”. You are, objectively, a heretic.

      You also do not understand logic. My statement would be, “If the nation is keeping the covenant, no pregnancy will end in stillbirth.” You seem to think that this is contradicted by the observation that one pregnancy did not end in stillbirth. It doesn’t work that way.

      I deny that “no faithful Jewess would suffer a miscarriage” if the nation as a whole did not keep the covenant. To deny your assertion, I do not have to believe (as you seem to think) that if the nation does not keep the covenant, every pregnancy would result in miscarriage; all I have to assert is that there would be no promised divine protection as a result of Sinai. Additional graces could come separately. Heck, even in places where the language seemed to be universal, such as the destruction of the Canaanites, exceptions were made, such as Rahab and her family. The rest of Jericho was however destroyed, the “comparatively good”, including innocent children, along with the desperately wicked.

      I’m in real danger of losing my temper with you, so I’ll hold off any further conversation. You need to stop trying to be an “inspiration” to Catholics and just concentrate on being a faithful Catholic. And before my guardian angel says anything — so do I.

    11. Hannah is not about miscarriage; it’s about barrenness overcome. And I proved that an obedient Jewess was given victory in the midst of a non ideal time and social context. And you spend several paragraphs on miscarriage….avoiding Hannah for the second time.
      I think from the start you entered here when you saw me receive a compliment from a poster. Are you sure you don’t have a problem with coveting attention.? That is how your whole entry here has struck me.
      Here’s the upshot. Try hard to not address me. You seem to think you have some type of authority over others. You have none and you have a cartoon image which doesn’t help your goal of holding sway over others. May God bless you and deliver you from whatever it is that has you on the edge of temper.

  3. Thank you, John, for a great post. I am currently working as a welder for a large heavy equipment company, undergoing a lot of changes. So, naturally there is a lot of uncertainty for many people right now. I am 53 years old, and a convert to the faith almost ten years ago. I will have to keep this verse in mind in my day to day endeavors.
    The Peace of Christ be with you!

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