I’m no longer doing much preaching, but I still have the heart of a preacher. I guess that’s why I’ve been so drawn to Jeremiah lately.
A friend gave me wise counsel not long ago. I was lamenting some things in my life and he said I needed to find a Bible character with whom I could relate. He said I needed to live with that character for awhile and explore that person’s strengths and weaknesses and watch how God dealt with that person. He said I then should be honest about how God is dealing with me and my strengths and weaknesses.
As soon as he said that, I thought of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah was a preacher who hated to preach; yet, he HAD to preach. He preached not because he was told to, but because he HAD to. There’s a big difference between preaching because you have to and preaching because you HAVE to.
It’s one thing to put a sermon together because Sunday is just around the corner and you have to deliver the goods. It’s an entirely different thing when a sermon you’re preparing puts you together — just after it rips you apart.
Early in his ministry every preacher learns of Jeremiah 20:7-18 where Jeremiah’s schizophrenic dilemma comes spilling out in a prayer to God. He tells God how much trouble preaching has caused him and that he has decided not to preach any longer. Yet, he quickly finds that he’s miserable when he doesn’t preach. So, he accuses God of mockery and deception, but then he praises God for defending him, just before he curses the day he was born.
It must have been a wild ride for Jeremiah. . . and all the while God wouldn’t let him go. He was teaching Jeremiah. He was growing Jeremiah. He was preparing him and using him for something great.
I don’t know what God has planned for me. Maybe it has something to do with preaching and maybe it doesn’t. I guess the best I can do as God works on me is to pray (and live) Jeremiah’s prayer, “For to you I have committed my cause.”