I knew you before I formed you… Jeremiah 1:5
I was gripped by these words anew as I read them in my Bible. How is it that we were known first, before we were even formed? We were not just a thought in the heart of God, we were fully known by him long before he began his work of creating us. I think if I allowed that truth to sink in, I would live much more fearlessly.
We were created for purpose. And the purposes of God for our lives were determined in the place of eternity – long before we were ever formed – for a divinely appointed time.
Your life is pregnant with calling.
I’ve often shared about my own sense of calling out of the book of Jeremiah (one of my Bible BFF’s!). As I’m in the midst of preparing for Unveiled's annual gathering, I’ve been drawn back to Jeremiah. There is this fresh stirring in my heart for the many women carrying a Jeremiah calling – the calling of the Messenger.
The Lord says to Jeremiah: “Before even I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew all about you. Before you drew your first breath, I had already chosen you to be My prophet to speak My word to the nations” (Jer. 1:5).
Now Jeremiah’s response is interesting, because the Lord has just said: “Before I formed you.” The Psalmist says it this way: “It is God who has made us, we did not make ourselves” (Ps. 100:3).
God formed us. We did not form ourselves.
I love that word “formed” – it is so intimate. The Lord is lovingly and passionately declaring that he takes the time to fashion and mold us, as a skilled potter would in making a masterpiece out of clay.
He starts the conversation about calling with Jeremiah at its most critical foundation: “Listen, before we go any further, I need you to get this fact down in your soul: Before I even formed you, I knew all about you. And guess what? I had already decided for what purpose I was forming you.”
Your calling is not about you.
God makes clear that it was his doing to create Jeremiah for a very specific purpose: to speak his word. Jeremiah was not created for Jeremiah’s own purposes, to speak Jeremiah’s own words. No, Jeremiah was created by the Creator to speak His word.
The calling of the messenger is not incumbent upon the messenger. It is not about the messenger. It is not for the messenger. The role of the messenger is to deliver the word of the Giver of that message to the people for which the message is intended.
God’s own words would soon be placed in Jeremiah’s mouth.
That’s amazing, right? Jeremiah doesn’t seem to think so. He responds to this grand declaration of calling from his Maker with an all too familiar two words – I can’t. He says: “Ah, Eternal Lord! I’m too young and inexperienced to speak for you” (Jer. 1:6).
Can you hear your own voice echoed here? I can certainly hear mine. Lord, I know you think you created me for this purpose, but I’m pretty sure you made me wrong. There’s no way I can do the very thing you created me to do.
Hold up. Wait a minute. Did I just say that? To God? Yep. That’s pretty much what I’m saying every time I tell God “No thanks, I don’t think I’ll be able to do that.” I know. It sounds crazy. It is incredulous, this line of reasoning. God is like “Excuse me, I’m the one who made you. Before you ever took a single breath, this is the purpose for which I made you!”
The Lord is so patient and so kind. He consistently meets us where we are. He meets us in the place of our fears.
Can you place yourself in this conversation the Lord has with Jeremiah? Jeremiah explains to God that he can’t possibly speak because he is too young and too inexperienced. So the Lord speaks to the core of Jeremiah’s fears. “Don’t use your youth as an excuse, you can and will go wherever I send you. You can and will say whatever I tell you to say. You have no reason to fear the people you speak to, for I am with you and will defend you. Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth, and He gave me His divine message” (Jer 1:7-9).
Hear our Lord’s voice to you in his encouragement to Jeremiah. You can do it. I created you for this purpose. I will be with you.
Are there places in your life where you’re responding with fear to what God is asking you to do? Our reasoning in our fears makes absolutely no sense. My pastor often says: “Sin makes you stupid.” It’s true. Fear that is rooted in not trusting God is sin, and as a result we respond with severely flawed reasoning.
You can be confident that as God was with Jeremiah, so he will be with you. God fully equips Jeremiah to do exactly what he was created to do. He puts his word in Jeremiah’s mouth as he’d promised. He gives Jeremiah boldness to speak his word. And Jeremiah lives out his calling as a prophet – a messenger of God’s word.
God will fully equip you to do what you were created to do. And you can be certain of this because…it is not about you. It has been and always will be about him. It is about his plan and his purposes being accomplished in his creation.