“Before I created you in the womb I knew you;
before you were born I set you apart;
I made you a prophet to the nations.”
This verse always strikes at my heart – that God knew us before we even existed. This means that God knows better what we are capable of than anyone; God knows what our best selves look like, even if we don’t. In some sense this is great – God is rooting for you to be exactly that person whom God knows you to be. But on the other hand it can feel a little frightening, too – what wilderness is God calling us into? What parts unknown will we have to venture into as we move in directions that are not the familiar and comfortable ones we tend to stick to? Surely, God, you couldn’t mean me…
This reminds me of another reluctant servant who felt incredibly intimidated by the immense job that God was calling him to. You’ll recall the story of Moses who was surprised by a burning bush and the voice of God while tending his uncle’s sheep out in the desert in Midian. He uses every possible excuse he can think of: I’m a nobody – how will the Pharaoh of Egypt even deign to see me? (Exodus 3:11); God, I don’t know your name – who will I say has sent me? (Ex 3:13); How do I prove that you, God, are indeed the one who sent me? (Ex 4:1); God, I am not a speaker; and when I’m nervous it will only be worse. Are you sure you want me? (Ex 4:10). And then finally he comes out and says what he had been hinting at all along: “Please, my Lord, just send someone else” (Ex 4:13). Surely, God, you couldn’t mean me…
How many times have we just begged God to send someone else, to leave well enough alone? Everything is fine just as it is, God – I don’t want to rock the boat! Could it be that we are too afraid of failing, afraid of what people will think, too afraid of what will come next? Or are we afraid of growing into the person that God has known us to be since before we were born? So we might say: “Surely, God, you couldn’t mean me. Why don’t you just send someone else?” We seem to be particularly good at convincing ourselves that God couldn’t possibly need us, because surely there is someone else who is more talented and will do a far better job at whatever it is than us. We convince ourselves that God doesn’t really need us.
Most of us are not being called to lead the people out of Egypt as Moses was, or even to go and warn the people of the coming disaster as Jeremiah was. But, that does not mean that our call is any less crucial, any less vital to God’s story. That to which you are called is your role, your piece – and there is only one of you in this entire world. Remember that God knows what you are capable of. God created you with amazing potential. God believes in you and loves you. And because you are loved beyond human understanding, you will never walk alone. Even as God sent both Moses and Jeremiah out to do extraordinarily difficult tasks, they went with the unshakeable promise that God would never leave their side, no matter what is thrown at them in the course of completing their work (see Exodus 4:12, Jeremiah 1:19). Those same promises are true still today. When God says, “I’ll be with you,” you can stake everything on that promise.
As you read this blog, what are you thinking about? Are you thinking of that something that has been lying on your heart for a while now that you have been trying desperately to ignore? It could be anything at all. God calls us to all sorts of things according to our gifts – hospitality, visiting, prophecy, writing, creating, organizing, being a comforting presence to others, prayer – the list is endless. I pray that God will help you hear your call clearly, and fill you with the courage to respond. Hear God speaking to you in the words of Jeremiah 1:4: “Before I created you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart; I made you a prophet to the nations.” What will you say?
Be blessed, friends.
Grace and peace,