Lying flat out on my belly, face down in the sand: vulnerable, defenseless. Suddenly, out of nowhere, like Moses’s burning bush, like Jacob’s ladder, the summons comes: terror and hope. Terrible hope. If I am wrong, I am just here in the dirt, more aware of it than ever. But anticipation is trembling like air before a storm. The summons grows louder, insistent. Status quo groans and grumbles. Like Lazarus, I throw it off like so many dead rags. How I have ached and longed for this voice. I lift my head.
A day of consecration
Recently I set aside a day of fasting and prayer, for the purpose of consecration: “dedication to the service and worship of a deity” (on-line dictionary). In contrast to how “holy” this idea might sound, my motivation was actually pure desperation, feeling far from the God I worship. And yet, as so many other times, God in His great mercy and grace seems to meet me when my heart is darkest. I submit these reflections below to you, not as a biblical scholar or someone who knows much of anything, but simply as a fellow sojourner passing along to you the encouragement that God offered to me. Just in case it might give you the courage to believe you are “summoned” – as, indeed, each of us is.
A meditation on Jeremiah’s summons: Jeremiah 1: 4-19
- What reasons does God give for His calling of Jeremiah?
- What objections are raised by Jeremiah?
- In what ways do you identify with Jeremiah’s protestations?
- In verses 6-8, the phrase “I am…” is repeated twice. Compare and contrast the characteristics of the “I” in each statement.
- The word “for” is also repeated twice. What is it in the sentence “for”?
- What part of your being does God want to touch, to replace your inadequacy and fear with His sufficiency?
- To what is God appointing you?
- In verse 10, God describes opposite concepts for Jeremiah’s calling. Only the circumstances and God’s moment-by-moment supply of wisdom will warrant the appropriate response . What contrasts of response might be inherent to God’s calling in your life?
- Look around you. Are there any objects or scenes, like the almond tree branch, like the boiling pot, that resonate in some way with what the Lord is doing in your life?
- What opposition might arise as you pursue God’s calling?
- Imagine yourself standing up to the opposition. What specific Scripture comes to mind in response to the opposition you can imagine? Write it down! Speak it out loud! Memorize it. Keep it close in the days ahead.
- Again, the phrase “I am with you” is repeated. What does this promise mean to you personally?
- Write a prayer of response and committal. Summarize what you believe the Lord is speaking to you. Ask for courage. Commit your way to Him.
My own day of consecration
I wrote this “retreat guide” from Jeremiah for myself, the week before my planned day of fasting and prayer, not knowing where I would spend the day. I imagined I would be outside. But, I awoke to a cold and frozen world. Shove Chapel came to mind. Many years ago, as an InterVarsity staffworker at Colorado College, it was a place of passion, vision, engagement. Sometimes alone, sometimes with students, a place to incarnate God’s longing for a tiny college campus. And, indeed, His Kingdom came!
And so I returned to this place where God so faithfully met me in the past. The large cavernous sanctuary settled silent and mysterious. I sank into a creaking corner pew in the right transcept, a more intimate side chapel area.
I wrestled with God’s calling of Jeremiah. Could he possibly speak to me as personally as he did to the monumental prophet?
When I came to the question about an object or scene that resonated with my ruminations, I noticed muted refractions of light filtering over wooden pews. The source: a stained glass window behind me. An image-bearer, powerless to be anything but itself, creating a holy smattering of color and light as the sun shone through. I sat there undone, in sacred reverence. Suddenly knowing that if only the light will touch me, shine through me, it is enough: I am summoned.
As are you.