Calling and Obedience Go Together
What keeps you from being all that you can be? Do you listen to voices, your own or others’, telling you “You can’t do it.” “It’ll never work.” “Who are you trying to kid?”
Welcome to the club! I daresay that we all hear those voices and, of course, sometimes they’re right. We have some crazy ideas.
But the far more common problem is that these voices keep us from even trying what might be great! Some of us learn to ignore them better than others, but I’ve never met anyone who didn’t, at times, feel inadequate to the task before them.
Jeremiah, the great prophet of Israel who began his work in the late 7th century BC, and the author of both Jeremiah and Lamentations, struggled with the same doubts. When God called him into prophetic ministry, his response was “Ah, Lord GOD! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” (Jeremiah 1:6)
While we don’t know his exact age at the time, what we do know is that God told him, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.'” (Jeremiah 1:7-8; click here for the full passage)
When following the call of God, we do not depend on our own skill, wit or age. We depend on God to send us where we need to be, and give us what we need at that time. That requires a step of faith. The promise is not that “I’ll send you to school, and give you lots of training and experience so you’ll feel comfortable when you go.” The promise is “Go, and I will give you what you need.” Obedience comes before preparation, indeed, the obedience is usually essential to the preparation.
Two things to remember as we step out in obedience: First, we are not promised that whatever WE decide to do will prosper, or even that God will equip us for it. The critical step is discerning God’s call on our lives (admittedly, sometimes a very difficult step, but that’s another topic…).
Second, we are not promised that our obedience will lead to success as we humans define it. Jeremiah was not promised that everyone would listen and receive his words with joy – indeed, they did not. In fact, Jeremiah became known as the “weeping prophet,” so great were the struggles and disappointments of his life.
But we will accomplish what God intends for us to accomplish, as Jeremiah did. And in the end, is there anything else that really matters?
This column appeared in the August 25, 2019 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.