Live in the Land, Do Good, Bake Muffins

Woven throughout the Old Testament is the theme of exile.

We are given example on example of individuals in exile, of a people in exile, of a community in exile. The why, where, and how of exile are detailed in Ezra, Nehemiah, the Prophets and more.

Exile and return.

It is the prophet Jeremiah who speaks practical words into the life of the displaced, the life of the exile. He gives instructions that I would sometimes like to forget, dismiss, say they are unimportant.

But the instruction is there and it is good.

Instruction to build houses and live in them.

Instruction to plant gardens, to settle down.

Instruction to get married, have kids.

Instruction to seek the welfare of the city in which you now live.

There have been times when I have been displaced, feeling as though in exile, and it has taken me a long time to act on this instruction. The instruction doesn’t say the exiled won’t feel longing, the instruction doesn’t promise full integration.

But it gives instruction to do these things despite a longing for another place, another time.

Today I enter into life feeling exiled. I have once again experienced a world beyond and I am basking in the beauty of that time. For a few moments my world was warm and full of color. For a brief time I experienced the chaos that comforts me, the sounds and smells that declare I am home. But today? Today I am back at my official address with my official passport. I’d love to wax wise about how the notion that my passport identifies my “home” is absurd, about how what you see on the outside is rarely what makes up the inside – but I don’t have the energy and besides, you can read other posts where I’ve done just that.

If I could paraphrase Jeremiah’s instruction for today, Monday, as I am reeling in displaced chaos I would say “Live in the land, do good, bake muffins.” So I offer up a prayer for the day: 

“Show me how to live in the land and do good and as you show me, help me to make really good muffins.”

It is a prayer for the day, the hour, the minute.

“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; plant gardens and eat their 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.” Jeremiah 29:4-8

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Browned Butter Pecan Banana MuffinsToday’s Muffins look amazing! The recipe is for Browned Butter Pecan Banana Muffins. How Stacy finds these is beyond me but I thank her for them. Either click here or on the picture to go to the recipe and thank you Stacy!

20 thoughts on “Live in the Land, Do Good, Bake Muffins

  1. I ate a really great chocolate cupcake the other day…there’s something about eating something really good that just settles the heart. I’m so glad God made food enjoyable and I think He has special purposes for some foods–the ones we call comfort foods because they do comfort in hard times and we are all of us Christians, to some extent, exiles.

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  2. You always bring a fresh perspective to me, Marilyn, for which I am grateful. As many times as I’ve read this passage, I can’t believe I never applied it to the life I’m living. Perhaps this is what comes of Bible study with books and videos from US/Canadian teachers. I need a good expat teacher! I’ve lived my life according to those words though, especially the part about putting down roots and seeking the welfare of the city in which I live. Which is always the wrench when we move on, just to do it again. But I know it’s the right thing to do, both for my family and for our new hometowns. And, now, thanks to you, I know it is prescribed in the Bible. Win-win!

    Also, muffins make everything better. Especially if you bake and share. Most weeks I send them in to the office with Simon and Sundays (our first working day of the week) have become a day to look forward to for his colleagues.

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    1. I love that you send these to the office! What a great way to share the joy?! Good call on the practicality needed to live out our faith in these settings where we are displaced. Much like cooking, sometimes the ingredients need to be adjusted. Thanks Stacy and gorgeous muffins.

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  3. Hi Marilyn,
    I’m not into muffins, but the rest of your post was like honey to my soul. I really needed it. I feel like my last 35 years have been in exile in my “home” country. The feeling of displacement here has increased instead of decreasing, especially after a trip back to my “real” home. Tears came to my eyes as I read your take on Jeremiah. It is so good to know that God allows us to enjoy the land; He wants us to put down roots here in exile; to seek good for others here, even though I struggle with identifying with them. Here is where I’m placed, and although my heart has hung up its harp in the willow tree, (Psa. 137:2) I am not alone here: I have God (and you:)

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    1. Oh love this! Partially for the empathy I feel shouting from your comment. And your words on hanging the harp on the willow tree did me in. Thank you for responding to this piece.

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  4. I am smiling at this post of yours! Perfect for me and others I know! Perfect also because it reminds me how I have gotten to know many neighbors in new and strange cities/countries/lands. I bake banana bread and take it to all the neighbors. I just about have enough bananas saved up for a loaf!

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    1. Love this! When we were in Islamabad I took banana bread to my neighbor and she loved it so much she begged me to teach her to make it. It’s that sharing of bread and in doing so making what are sometimes unlikely connections.

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  5. Welcome back!

    This is a perfect thought for me to read at my desk on Monday morning (during a conference call that I’m not particularly interested in being on) after a perfect weekend of friends, sunshine, lakes, etc. I don’t particularly want to be at my desk right now…but I am here to seek the welfare of whatever God has set in front of me. Having a muffin would sure make it easier though…

    Thanks for the wisdom, as always!

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  6. Welcome back! We’ve missed you. The muffins, they look delicious, but I’m afraid this recipe looks just a bit too sweet for us. I’ve loved making muffins in recent years because they are such a nice alternative to so many other snacks. And yes, we are living in exile. I feel it more every day – in my bones, literally! But also in my soul and heart. Thanks for the great reminder. May you have strength equal to the day’s demands! Love you.

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  7. Excellent use of this passage. All Christians ought to think of themselves in exile and seek the good of the land where they’re living (and lands where other people are living).

    Muffins make me happy. I ought to bake some.

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    1. I really needed this comment on this post today! A huge thank you. And you’re right – if we’re honest we as believers are in exile from the world God intended us to enjoy. It’s not just living between worlds – it’s a true displacement. As one guest blogger said it’s about learning to live well where we don’t belong. It’s simple but I tend to make it difficult. Thus the muffins……!

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      1. However…as true as it is that all Christians should consider themselves exiles…there are some who feel it more keenly. It’s good and true and Biblical to be in exile…but I still often feel lonely and lost.
        Thus the muffins….!

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