Like most teenagers, my children make excuses, particularly when they have to do an unpleasant task. Their excuses involve reasons for not doing chores or for why they argue with each other. And like most parents, I do not put a lot of stock in their excuses. I see them for what they are: attempts to get out of what needs to be done.
When God calls Jeremiah, Jeremiah also makes excuses. But God seems prepared for it. Before Jeremiah utters a word, God starts with a reminder that God appointed Jeremiah before he was born. “Before you were born, I dedicated you. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (tib). In other words, I know what you’re going to say, and in case you were thinking about bowing out, remember who made you and to whom you belong.
Most days, we aren’t much better than Jeremiah. Like my kids making excuses for not doing chores, we try to find reasons for not doing the things that God has called us to do. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough money. I’m not good enough, smart enough, old enough, eloquent enough. Do any of these sound familiar? To some degree, we’re right. We aren’t enough; but God is. God is more than enough. When the Creator of the universe calls us, we can be sure God will go with us. We have nothing to fear. Our flimsy excuses don’t stand a chance against the power of the Almighty.
Almighty God, calm my fear. Help me to know that when you call me, you call me to walk alongside you to accomplish your work. Amen.
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures share a common theme of calling. Jeremiah is called at a young age to be a prophet. God knew and set apart Jeremiah even in the womb. The psalmist also expresses confidence in God’s call, because God knew him even before he was born. In the same way, God knows each one of us and has a plan for our lives that is not an afterthought. In this First Corinthians passage (often read at weddings), Paul speaks of love. But this love is not infatuation and is not based on emotion. It is intentional, strong, gritty, and unselfish. In Luke we see that many struggle with the fact that Jesus’ calling is also to serve the marginalized. Jesus reveals that God has a missional heart.
Read Jeremiah 1:4-10. What is God calling you to do? What excuses are you making to ignore your vocation?
Read Psalm 71:1-6. God promises not to make our lives easy or perfectly safe but to be with us when we face challenges and violence. In a world that seems increasingly violent, how do you find assurance of God’s continuous presence?
Read 1 Corinthians 13. God calls us to a vocation of love. How can you be more loving in your daily work or activities?
Read Luke 4:21-30. How do you see God’s call in those you know best? Do you accept or reject the call God has placed on their lives?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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