I recently attended a Willow Creek conference in Bracknell, which was very inspirational and challenging. God downloaded so much so I thought it would be good to share and encourage you with some of this stuff. Today I want to look at the topic of Tough Callings, through the life of the prophet of Jeremiah. Now if we expect that once we begin our Christian adventure it’s going to be full of successes and growth, we only have to look at the calling of Jeremiah. I am not suggesting that our calling will be the same, but we need a sense of reality of what is expected when we are prepared to follow Jesus and be his disciple.
Bill Hybels says this, “As leaders we are addicted to the narcotic of growth and success.” It is very easy to romanticise Christian living. However success measured by God involves obedience and faithfullness, regardless of opposition and personal cost. Let us look at Jeremiah’s calling from Chapter 1, verses 1-19. His ministry as a prophet spanned for 40 years between 627 and 586BC. His mission from God, if he was prepared to accept it, was to inform the Israelites that they had to repent and stop committing the two sins of forsaking God and worshipping their own idols. This was not to make him popular at all and would incense the whole population including the religious leaders. On many occasions he would be beaten and left for dead, including being thrown in a deep pit.
In verse six it informs us that Jeremiah was called as a child and that he felt that he could not speak properly. To man Jeremiah would not have been the ideal candidate to be a prophet for God, however God sees us differently and will always use our gifts and abilities that are so often not seen by the world. Man looks at our weaknesses but God always looks at our strengths.
However God promises Jeremiah in verse 8 that he does not have to be afraid because he will always be with him. I think this is the statement that sold the job of being a prophet to Jeremiah. Whatever tough calling we are prepared to undertake we must always accept this promise from God.
It also says in verse 8 that God will rescue Jeremiah. Now this is probably one of the most important sentences in this chapter. God is not saying to Jeremiah that he will never see trouble. In fact he is promising him that he will indeed experience trouble and suffering, but God will rescue him. God tells us all that as his prophets and followers we will undoubtedly experience hardship, but have the ultimate promise of his protection as long as we are obedient to his ways.
So Jeremiah excepts this tough calling. However as we know it is so tough that he often thought of giving up. Jeremiah 20:7 states that Jeremiah felt that God deceived him. Surely my calling from God should have gone better than this. However after dusting himself down and spending time with God, Jeremiah realised that the most important thing he could ever do with his life was to be obedient to God.
Jeremiah realised that when we lead selfish lives and putting other idols before God, we begin to ignore the poor, orphans and widows and in God’s eyes this is mistreating the poor. The bible tells us who can be against us when God is for us. In vesre 19 we have this wonderful promise. “They will fight against you but will not overcome you. For I am with you and will rescue you.” Nothing will defeat us completely when we respond to God’s tough calling.
Prayer: God I pray that your people will stand up in courage and say I am ready for my tough calling. I am ready for the battle and I am ready to glorify your name in the life I lead. Compromise and giving up is never an option and even though I walk through the valley of death, your mercies are fresh and new every morning. Amen