The Bible recounts numerous stories of God calling a person to service and so we also have many examples of how people respond to God’s call. I have always tended to believe that if you look hard enough, you will find someone whose response mirrors your own. For me, that person is Jeremiah. I came to faith when I was 15 and almost immediately began serving in various ministries. Because I was so young and serving with and to people older, wiser, and more experienced than myself, I often told God something like, “Oh, Lord GOD, I really do not know how to speak well enough for that, for I am too young.” (1:6) I especially felt too young to be able to do anything in the context of the Church, where youth is often reason enough for people to ignore you. Because of this God’s words to Jeremiah have often been a rallying point for me, serving as both a reminder and a comfort when I feel too young or too inadequate to make a difference, and there are a few points in particular that I want to bring out that I think can help people of any stage in life:
1. Just do it!
This phrase was Nike’s slogan for a long time when I was growing up, and I never really understood its purpose, but I think this is what God tells Jeremiah in verse 7. “The LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ But go to whomever I send you and say whatever I tell you.” Before God says anything else to Jeremiah, he tells him to stop objecting and to start obeying. Sometimes God wants us to obey his call before he explains it to us. He had already told Jeremiah in verse 5 that there was a divine plan for him, set in motion before he was born. That should have been enough for Jeremiah to obey. It should be enough for us to obey.
2) Do not be afraid…for I will be with you to protect you. (1:8)
The second thing God does is remind Jeremiah that there is no reason to be afraid because the Lord’s presence will be his protection. Throughout Scripture God reminds the people he has called about this promise, a promise that we also have received. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matt. 28:20). I will never leave you and I will never abandon you. (Heb. 13:5)
3) Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I will most assuredly give you the words you are to speak for me.” (v. 9).
We must always remember that God will not call us without also giving us the ability to complete the task. He will never set us up for failure. If God is calling me to do something, he has or will enable me to complete it.
4. I hereby give you the authority. (v. 10).
This I think is extremely important for today’s young people (including myself) to remember. The secular world (and especially the media) caters to teens and young adults, making it seem as if we are important and worth listening to simply because we are young (almost the exact opposite of the typical attitude of the Church). It is easy for me to carry that belief into the Church setting and think that everyone should listen to me simply because I’m young or because I’m able to understand what unbelieving young people are thinking and feeling. This isn’t what God says, however. I am not to speak or serve on my own authority, but by God’s authority. I cannot bring my own agenda to the table. I cannot disobey other commandments of God (such as the one about respecting those in authority) in the process of obeying God’s call on my life.
5. God will confirm his calling.
When I was a new Christian I was always curious as to how I should know when God was calling me. I heard Christians talking about “feeling” that God wanted them to do something and wondered how they knew it wasn’t just indigestion. But I think I have a little better grasp on this concept now. In verses 11 and following, God confirms Jeremiah’s calling and I believe he does that with us as well. Its easy to get emotional when hearing a missionary recount the horrors of war or hunger around the world, but feeling empathy or sympathy does not equal a calling on your life. But if time after time you feel God nudging you in a specific direction or ministry, you’d better start to listen. If God tweaks your heart every time there is a call for nursery help or children’s church teachers or short term missions trips, then it may be time to pray and consult the pastors because God may be calling you. Think about when God called Samuel. He kept calling until Samuel responded. Is it time for me to say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”?
6. God knows what you need.
After God confirms Jeremiahs call, he gives Jeremiah a final reminder not to be afraid. In verses 17-18, God tells him not to be terrified and promises that he will rescue him from danger. God understands that we humans are weak and scared and insecure. He knows that we need constant reassurance of his presence, and because of this, he will give us the constant reassurance. It may be through Scripture verses where he promises to be with us; it may be through the stirring of the Holy Spirit in our hearts; it may be through the encouragement of a brother or sister in Christ, but God will remind us that he is with us and that he will help us fulfill our calling.