“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” (Jeremiah 1:6)
I started reading the book of Jeremiah this week. Not too far into reading I came across this verse and it stuck out to me. This verse is a response to God after being told that he had been called to be a prophet. I feel like sometimes I have that response to God, I mean not those exact words, but what Jeremiah is saying is, “God I’m just not there.” Being called by God to be a prophet would not be an easy thing. We can look at all the prophets that were called by God and see that they all had to live through some pretty horrible things. On one hand I can see where Jeremiah would be making an excuse to God trying to get out of being a prophet, but on the other hand I can see where Jeremiah would doubt his qualifications.
Reading Jeremiah’s words got me thinking about other people in the bible who were “just not there.”
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (Judges 6:15)
So Gideon, he was this guy who was pretty average, I’d think. He was just trying to survive in a pretty scary period of time, when out of the blue this angel comes down and tells him that God has chosen him to save Israel. And then the way that God leads Gideon to defeat the Midianites was completely crazy by human standards.
Sometimes I find myself being Gideon. I ask God how I can do the things he has called me to do. Especially before coming to France. I wasn’t completely confident (internally) to be myself in God. I allowed people to make me feel small, like I was less than average. I knew in my heart that I wasn’t and that God had plans for me and that he was calling me to something, but in my own way I felt like Gideon. My call was not to save Israel, by any stretch, and before coming to France I don’t think that I really knew what God was calling me to, but I was still questioning how I was supposed to accomplish what God was calling me to do. But God doesn’t call us to do things that we can’t accomplish.
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)
Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)
But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” (Exodus 4:13)
Then I came across Moses. Here we find Moses trying to evade what God had called him to do. He starts out by saying, “Who am I?” then, “I’m not equipped,” and finally, “Not me, please.” Moses really did not want to do what God said, and I mean who can really blame him. He had a wife, two children, and a job: he was comfortable. And when he had left Egypt it was because he had killed someone! He was scared out of his boots to go back there. But really making excuses to God doesn’t help because God is the best problem solver. For every question Moses had, God had a very good answer. But the thing that Moses just couldn’t get over was that he “just wasn’t there.”
Sometimes we look at ourselves in the mirror and see all of our limitations. We see what we are not. We see that we are too young, or too old, we are not smart enough, we are not equipped to do what God is calling us to do. Well in human standards we may be right, we may not have what it takes to do what God calls us, but we have the one thing that matters the most and that’s… God. God doesn’t always place dreams in our hearts or call us when we are in the prime position to fulfill them. He calls us when we are not ready so that we can rely on him and look to him to be all that we are not. He doesn’t call us to fail. That would be incredibly counterproductive for him. He looks at our hearts and sees all of our potential inside and who we are with him. He sees where we can go. So I don’t need to hold myself back from doing what I am called to do by saying, “God I’m just not there,” because he knows, and his response is, “Let me help you get there.”
All these men succeeded in what God called them to do. In spite of the fact that they all started their “ministries” with “I’m just not there,” they all did what they were called to do, with much of God’s help. God did not leave them when they said to him they were not right for the job, he continued to dream with them. He worked with them. And I know that he does the same with me and my dreams because he does not call the equipped, he equips those he calls.
Sometimes I’m just not there, but that’s ok because I will be.