Keep on Keeping On

Remember this saying? I had a high school friend who would use this phrase as his good bye. Maybe it annoyed me just a little bit because I didn’t understand his meaning. He played guitar and was into soul music, and we all thought him to be a cool guy. So he wasn’t asked what was meant by it.

Another saying from that era, much more annoying, was “Keep on Truckin'”. What, exactly, is it I’m supposed to keep doing now? How does one “truck”? Again, no one asked that question, and we tolerated the popular tee shirt with the cartoonish guy with the big shoes.

This blog post returns to the Bible Sampler Quilt project, although I don’t have a block to share with you. The book of Jeremiah isn’t used in the quilt, but I want to talk about it anyways.

Still thinking about my high-school-aged self, I remember having a hard time synthesizing the punishing Old Testament God and the loving New Testament God as one and the same. When I started reading the Bible earnestly as a teen, I found myself avoiding the Old Testament books of the law, and focusing on the good news of the gospels instead.

This time, my reading through ALL of the words of the Bible is an altogether different experience. I didn’t catch it in my youth, but in the midst of the bad news, there is also good news. In the midst of judgment and condemnation, there are glimpses of hope and salvation.

The book of Jeremiah begins with the setting, which establishes that he was a real person from a certain time and place. The very fact that God listed the names of the reigning kings to inform us of the time period is our first glimpse of hope. (The kings were Josiah and Jehoiakim, and God’s people knew that their savior would come from the lineage of David.)

Bad News: The Israelites were behaving extremely badly. Therefore, God would punish them and they’d be taken away into captivity by Babylonia.

Good News: Babylonians didn’t kill when they conquered, rather, they enslaved. So Israelite kings would live, which means the lineage of Christ could continue.

Bad news: The captives were struggling to keep their chins up during their exile. It was hard to try and remember their special identity as God’s chosen people, citizens of His promised land, while stuck in Babylon year after year after year.

Good news: Halfway through the book, in chapter 29, God lets His children know that He will bring them back to the promised land after seventy years time. He promises to restore the fortunes of His people. He basically tells them to “keep on keeping on”:

Jeremiah 29:4 – 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, and plant gardens, and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. And 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 have welfare.

The Israelites heard this and probably thought: You mean I’m just supposed to simmer down, settle in, be kind, and get on with everyday living? I can do that.

Aha, so that’s what it means! This new decade will see my fiftieth high school reunion, and I finally understand how to keep on keeping on.

And think about it, having all those babies means that there will be a plentiful population when it finally comes time for them to pack up and move back home to Israel.

Aha! That will be when we share an encouraging word, like: “Keep on Truckin'”

I get it now.

A blogpost would not be complete without a photo, so I’ll share this “One year ago” email I received from Google today.

Aren’t they lovely? Both taken by my husband in our back yard, catching God’s perfect artistry. Both also show evidence of the neverending state of our fixer-upper life. One year later, the ladders and shovels are still being put to use somewhere else around the house. We’ll just keep on keeping on.

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