One of the coolest things about SBS is when God brings up an issue in my life and then confronts it with the truth that we study from the book(s) of the week.
Since I got here last September, I’ve been racking my brain with where I’d want to serve God after I graduated. I thought it would be nice to start a career again, maybe in an entirely different industry, or maybe get a job overseas, but then I thought about staffing a YWAM school or returning to Tahiti with the YWAM missionary team that is already there.
But then this past Monday, I felt as though God was showing me that I wasn’t trusting Him with this part of my life. I just recalled my life last year after I got home from Tahiti where I had a seven-month window until this bible school started here in LA. I only ended up working two of those seven months, which ended up being a really nice season of rest and immense spiritual growth, but deep down I didn’t want to be unemployed again or at least involved in full-time volunteer work of some kind. Basically, I wasn’t trusting that God would guide me or that He had awesome plans for me. So I decided to trust God and lay that part of my heart before Him.
As soon as I did that, an hour later the leader of my school confronted me about it because I had briefly written about this struggle in one of my assignments. She encouraged me that even though it may not seem like it, I am serving God right now. At first, I couldn’t see how I could be serving God by studying the Bible in this “Christian bubble.” In my head, my idea of service to God looked different.
And then we started studying the book of Jeremiah. I didn’t realize how amazing this book was!
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.Jeremiah 1:4,5
Even though Jeremiah felt inadequate, God promised to give him everything he needed to complete the task. God’s only requirement was that Jeremiah not back down in the fear of man. God would give him all the words to speak and the protection he needed to get through the persecution he would endure:
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.
Jeremiah’s calling wasn’t the easiest. Can you imagine a calling where you would see absolutely no fruit or reward for your work? I only studied this book once, so I may have missed it, but I don’t recall seeing one person respond to Jeremiah’s call to repentance.
Jeremiah often wondered where God was since the people he was ministering to were showing no signs of change:
My joy is gone, grief is upon me,
my heart is sick.
Hark, the cry of my poor people
from far and wide in the land:
“Is the Lord not in Zion?
Is her King not in her?”
(“Why have they provoked me to anger with their images,
with their foreign idols?”)
“The harvest is past, the summer is ended,
and we are not saved.”
For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,
I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.
But God felt the pain of His people’s rejection too, not because he needed
His people to feel complete, but because He just had to watch His people make bad choices and suffer the consequences when He had a much better way for them. Jeremiah’s service to God was to bear God’s heart for his people, which was mainly just grief:
My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out on the ground because of the destruction of my people, because infants and babes faint in the streets of the city.
Jeremiah (who also most likely wrote Lamentations) did not always think that his ministry was a blessing because of the grief he felt for his people, but God assured him that it was the best calling for his life:
The Lord said: Surely I have intervened in your life for good, surely I have imposed enemies on you in a time of trouble and in a time of distress…
God even reassured Jeremiah’s scribe, Baruch. Baruch wondered why his calling wasn’t as “great” as he imagined it to be. But God was showing Baruch that he truly was blessed! If he had chosen not to serve Jeremiah and God, he would have just perished away with all the other people:
And you, do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for I am going to bring disaster upon all flesh, says the Lord; but I will give you your life as a prize of war in every place to which you may go.
I saw myself in Baruch, seeking great things in my life but totally missing out on the fact that wherever I am is the greatest place for me to be. This “calling” that I had been looking forward to is actually today. And since I’m submitted to God, I can trust that He’s guiding me, and I can live and serve in the moment. In sum, this book has helped me start trusting God with my life and have a renewed attitude into what true service looks like.
Another thing God confronted me about during this book was the issue of self-importance. No matter where I’m at, God is using me, and I can serve Him and His people to the best of my abilities without thinking it’s “up to
me” to get people to change. I can just live to love God and love others, and trust the “fruit” into God’s hands just like Jeremiah had to. What a relief that is! We actually don’t have to take ourselves so seriously because God alone is sovereign and in control. We can serve with excellence in complete joy in the freedom that Christ gives!