When God CALLS us, He will also EQUIP us for the TASKS: Then said I: "Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth." But the Lord said to me: "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you," says the Lord." (Jer. 1:6-8)
In the first chapter of this prophetical book, Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah is identified, called, instructed and empowered by God for his prophetic ministry. His father was a priest of Anathoth in Benjamin. Jeremiah was ordained by God as a prophet even before his birth (v. 5) but he shows reluctance citing his inexperience as a youth (v. 6). However, Jeremiah is divinely empowered (vv. 8, 9), and commissioned to predict destruction and restoration to Israel (v. 10).
We can understand that Jeremiah was probably only in his late teens at the time God called him. The Hebrew term for “youth” indicates three things about Jeremiah: (1) He was a very young man when he became conscious of God’s call; (2) He felt that he lacked the strength and wisdom necessary for the task to which he was called; (3) He was inexperienced in prophetic service. However, God looked beyond his human weaknesses and inadequacies and equipped Jeremiah for the task ahead (see Zech. 4:6).
The call of Jeremiah was dependent upon the power of God, not upon human frailties such as age. The breadth of his ministry was wherever God chose to send him. Jeremiah’s obligation was to be obedient and not be afraid of his circumstance. The presence of God would be with him at all times, and God would deliver him from all harm (v. 8). This call of Jeremiah highlighted the principle that when God calls a person to a task, He also equips that person for the task!
Like Jeremiah, we also list our weaknesses and limitations, but God promises His enabling presence (Matt. 28:20) and His all-sufficient grace (2 Cor. 9:8; 12:9). Like Jeremiah, we anticipate fearful situations, but God promises His deliverance always! God does not call us to a task He cannot help us to fulfill. We can recall similar sense of unworthiness from Moses (Exodus 3:4), Barak (Judges 4:8), Gideon (Judg. 6:15), Saul (1 Sam. 10:22), David (2 Sam. 7:19), Solomon (1 Kings 3:7), and many others who understood clearly that sufficiency for God’s service comes only from God Himself (2 Cor. 2:16).
The tasks that we are called to do will be difficult. However, since we are called by God we will receive divine enablement to complete our tasks. God graciously taught Jeremiah that He specializes in using “ordinary” people to accomplish His “extraordinary” work.
Just like God reassured Jeremiah of His presence and protection, we also have the same promises from God. He will use us if we trust Him in spite of our fears, obey Him in spite of our inexperience, and proclaim His Word in spite of our feelings of inadequacy. When God calls us to do a task for Him, He does not ask us to be adequate; He only asks us to be available for Him. When God calls us, let us believe what He says and obey Him. We may not feel up to it, but our adequacy comes from God and not from ourselves!
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Cor. 3:5-6)