The Lord said to me, “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I chose you. Before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.” I answered, “Oh, Lord God, I really do not know how to speak well enough for that, for I am too young.” 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. Do not be afraid of those to whom I send you, for I will be with you to protect you,” says the Lord. 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.. (Jeremiah 1:4–9)
In a Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown says to Lucy: “My Dad said that someday I might be able to run for President.”
- “Really, Charlie Brown?” Lucy answers. “He certainly must think highly of you!”
“I don’t know,” Charlie replies. “He also said that he didn’t think he’d vote for me.”
It is important for us to know that God our Father would vote for us. In fact, God has already cast his vote!
In the Scripture you just heard God said to Jeremiah,
Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I chose you. Before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5).
It’s nice to be chosen. It’s even nicer to be “pre-chosen.”
Do you remember how you used to choose up teams when you were a kid? Two captains were appointed and the captains chose the players they wanted one by one. It was a great honor to be one of the first ones picked. And the worst thing that could happen was to be the last one standing there, finally picked by a captain mumbling under his breath, “Well, I guess I’ve got to take denise.”
God chose Jeremiah for a specific purpose – to prophesy, claim that which was good in God’s eyes and destroy that which was evil and corrupt. An awfully big job for a young boy. But Jeremiah protested; being a young boy, he thought he was not capable for working for the Lord. . . certainly NOT speaking to groups of people.
We are where we are on purpose. God does not do anything by accident. He put us where we are today for a reason. We are not here because some committee voted or chose us. We are not there because some strings were pulled. We are there because God has set us in this place.
How many of us can remember when we were children that we could yell at the top of our lungs and be heard for blocks on the playground, but when asked to read or recite in class, no one could hear us?
God has set us in this place so He might be glorified in and through us. And one of the ways He does that is to place his words in our mouths.
- He gives us words to bring the story of His love to those who do not know him.
He gives us words to speak out against the injustice in the world.
He gives us words to support those traveling with us.
He gives us words to calm our hearts in times of distress.
But He doesn’t punish us if we misuse His words. . .
or misunderstand what He is saying. . .
or neglect to use the words He gives us.
He has chosen us from the womb and we are and will forever be His.
We can try to live in the example of Jesus, but we all know we are weak and don’t always say or do the right thing. But we have been chosen by God and saved by His grace.
We have no idea where we will be going or what we will be doing. . . only God knows that. But I have a suggestion for you: Live your life, the life God has given you up to this point. Go on, just live it. Do what pleases you, what fulfills you, what gets your blood moving, your heart pumping, your imagination jumping. Live your life and give it all you’ve got. Then, give it to God. Offer your life – such as it is and all that it is – to God as a living sacrifice. Acknowledge that you belong to God and no other. Then see where the journey takes you.
God chose Jeremiah before he was born, and God has already chosen you. Theologian Croft Pentz, who is famous for this one-line zingers, once said,
- “God votes for us, Satan votes against us and
we hold the deciding vote.”
Whether or not you choose to play on God’s team, know that your heavenly Father has already chosen you! The rest is up to you.
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 3 February 2013