Days of Preparation: Week Six/Session One.
Theme: God’s Call to Me.
Our reading for today: Jeremiah 1: 4-10.
“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that’s what I had in mind for you.”
But I (Jeremiah) said, “Hold it, Master God! Look at me. I don’t know anything. I’m only a boy!”
God told me, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a boy.’ I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there. I’ll tell you what to say and you’ll say it. Don’t be afraid of a soul. I’ll be right there, looking after you.” God’s Decree. (Jeremiah 1: 5-8 MsgB)
On our last blog entry, we looked at the ancient story of Moses and his amazing encounter with God: a la standing barefoot in front of a burning bush. Today’s passage brings us to yet another man, living in yet another time, who has his own face-to-face experience with the Creator of the Universe. Jeremiah is his name. And as Eugene Peterson, author of The Message Bible calls him, this man of God is “the prophet of choice for many when we find ourselves having to live through difficult times and want some trustworthy help in knowing what to think, how to pray, (and) how to carry on.”
Jeremiah, you see, was much like Moses. He lived in very tumultuous times. Times of hardship and trouble. Times when God’s people were needing His help. Times when God’s people, who needed His help, were looking for love in all the wrong places! Sound familiar? And then there was God, the Faithful Father, who saw His wayward people in great need and just like any loving father would do, He decided long before the problems began to send His help at the right time and in the right way. In this particular scenario, Jeremiah was the man of the hour that God had chosen long before Jeremiah had ever been born!
Think about that. Long before Moses delivered God’s people from slavery, God had already charted out the deliverance plan that was to be led by a man who stuttered. Long before David was appointed high king over God’s people, God had already planned to take a lowly shepherd and set him on a course toward leadership. Long before the creation of time and space, God the Father was planning the redemption of all mankind through the birthing of an innocent baby born in some obscure village called Bethlehem. So when God says to Jeremiah, “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you,” I gotta believe that God knew what He was talking about, don’t you?
So the next time God starts meddling in our lives, sending burning bushes, or speaking to us in our dreams, or sending strange messengers with seemingly outlandish messages, we need to remember that our lives didn’t start with us. Back to Eugene Peterson. Of Jeremiah, he states:
Jeremiah’s life didn’t start with Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s salvation didn’t start with Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s truth didn’t start with Jeremiah. He entered the world in which the essential parts of his existence were already ancient history. So do we. Our identity doesn’t begin with us. There’s something previous to what we think about ourselves, and that something is what God thinks about us. This means that everything we think and feel by nature is a response. And the one to whom we respond is God. We never speak the first word. We never make the first move. God is always previous.
Hmm. Guess that means that I can relax just a bit and know that God always precedes me, God is with me now, and God will be here long after I’ve lived my life on planet earth. And with that being true, I, like Jeremiah or Moses, can’t make excuses when being summoned by God to an assignment that the Almighty has charted out long before I was ever formed in my momma’s womb!
My prayer: Father, thank You for the reminder that You are eternally forever and I’m not! I’m the one You created by name…not the other way around. So often, Jesus, I forget that, and I begin to think that I must bear the responsibility for so much more than You ever expected me to do. Like Jeremiah and Moses before me, I choose to defer to and prefer Your sovereignty over and above mine. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So where have I lost track of the time charts of God? How have I come to believe that my life is the whole story and that somehow I must be the captain of my own ship, steering my life in ways that only I can know? What might it look like for me to be reminded, like Jeremiah, that the sovereign Lord of the universe has me covered from beginning to end?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.