The Seven Wonders of the Word
Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:4-5
Once upon a time, I remember these words being read at a confirmation dinner. This dinner was held at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Hutchinson, Minnesota a week or so before the current batch of students would affirm their baptism. I remember this verse touching me very deeply that night, in part because I had just recently decided to enter the seminary to be a pastor, and also this was the first group of kids I had worked with who would be confirmed. I knew them, I was excited for them, I saw all sorts of possibilities on the horizon for them because if that relationship.
It is nice to be known, and on some level we all want to, maybe even need to be known. But there is a flip side to being known. When you are known, there are no excuses, there are no easy outs. Jeremiah tried, right after these beautiful verses, Jeremiah’s immediate response to God’s call is …. “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak for am only a boy.” In essence, Jeremiah is saying; “whoa.. you don’t know what you are talking about I can’t do this.”
How often when faced with challenges of life, to the call that God places on each one of us do we respond in the same way. “Oh, I could never do that,” “Oh, no you must be mistaken,” or worse we might so thoroughly dismiss the fact that God could be calling us to do something that we never, ever even hear the call. I can’t tell you how many times we have placed a request in bulletins, or begged in announcements for people to step up to one ministry or another and even though I know for a fact there are many who are well equipped to do such a ministry, no one steps up. I think often it’s not that they look at a call, an invitation into a ministry of one sort or another and say no, often it doesn’t even register, doesn’t pop up on their radar screens as a possibility.
That is what I think happened to Jeremiah, that is why his response to this wonderful announcement that God knows him and knows him deeply is: uh, Lord God, you don’t know what you are talking about.
But God refutes that excuse flatly; “Do not say “I am only a boy.” This isn’t a pastoral response, it is a flat out scolding in some ways. God lays out for Jeremiah what he will do and what he will say. God’s expectations of Jeremiah were sky high, but God had those expectations because He was the one who would be supplying the words, He would be the one that would support, nurture and guide him. God’s expectations of Jeremiah were not unrealistic because God knew Jeremiah down to the smallest molecule.
Jeremiah’s expectations of himself were pretty low. Oh I don’t think he had self-esteem issues, but he certainly sold God short on what he could do. How often do we sell our selves short? How often are our expectations of ourselves so low that we dare not step out, that we dare not trust that God will accomplish what God needs to do. Put that way isn’t that just the height of hubris? That somehow we will get in the way of God doing what God needs to get done, is perhaps the most self-centered thing I can think of. Oh sure, we all have different gifts, I am not meant to be a liturgical dancer, nor are my gifts in other areas always so strong. But when God calls, He calls me into areas where He knows I will do what is needed, even if it is a growing area for me.
We are each known deeply by God, and loved deeply. The Word calls to us to trust in that love, to trust that God doesn’t make junk. Listen the Word is calling to you!