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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, August 29, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Jeremiah 1:4–10

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.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me, “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, says the Lord.” Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (NRSV)

Although it’s difficult to determine the exact age that Jeremiah was when he began his prophetic ministry—the Hebrew word used for “boy” (na’ar) ranges from infants to adolescents—what is certain is that Jeremiah was young enough to be shocked by his calling to be God’s prophet. Though the biblical text is filled with examples of children being called from a young age to serve God (Samuel and David, among others), Jeremiah clearly does not consider himself worthy to function as God’s mouthpiece. Channeling Moses’ argument from Exodus 4, he states that he does not know how to speak (i.e., speak eloquently) and seems to imply someone else would be better suited for this task.

This sort of bias often extends into our lives as well. We far too often fall into the trap of claiming our limitations (whether those within us or those that society places on us) rather than believing ourselves capable of growth or change. The promise of God’s Spirit, though, is that all of us are capable of more than we imagine for ourselves. Jeremiah would become one of the best known prophets in Israel’s history, prophesying during the downfall of Judah (627–587 BCE) and speaking words of both judgment and hope during an extremely vulnerable time.

Though we may not claim it for ourselves, perhaps we too are being called by God to more than we can imagine for ourselves at present—so may we remain open to the movement of God’s Spirit in our lives.

God of surprise and challenge, remind me that you have called me not only to use my gifts in your service but to discover new gifts as well. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

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