Here in Cambodia, the pace of life is much slower than in the US. I enjoy the free time because it gives me time to research things I saw at the hospital and spend time in the Word. This week I began reading Jeremiah, and though I have only studied the first part of chapter 1 (Jeremiah's call to be a prophet) so far, God is teaching me much through it! Here's a bit of what I'm learning.
First, the passage (Jeremiah 1:4-8): "Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.' Then I said, 'Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.' But the Lord said to me, 'Do not say, "I am only a youth"; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.'"
Something that was reiterated to me in these verses is that we are all unworthy when God calls us. Like Jeremiah, when God calls me to do something, my first response is sometimes to point out my inabilities and weaknesses. Yet the Lord responds, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you to deliver you" (vs 8). It seems that every time God calls someone who points out his/her inadequacies, God's response is "But I am with you." He said this to Moses, Gideon, Joshua, Paul, and more (Ex 3:12, Judges 6:16, Josh 1:9, Acts 18:10)! Jesus claims this truth, too, before crucifixion. He tells His disciples they will all desert him, but He adds, "Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me" (John 16:32).
God didn't become angry with those He called for making excuses, and He didn't tell them their claims of being too weak, young, or unable to speak well weren't true. He responded the way He did because He's the One who gives words to say and who delivers and does miracles. God's power is perfected in weakness (2 Cor 12:9-10), but how is it perfected? Through His presence in our lives. He displays His ability in the midst of our inability so that some things can only be explained through His presence.
A friend of mine told me that dying to self is all about stopping saying, "I got this" and saying instead, "God, You got this." I am finding this change in attitude is more than relinquishing control and pride; when I replace the instinctive "I got this" with "God, You got this," I am telling God I trust Him and am willing to walk wherever He leads, even if that path is scary or uncomfortable or undesirable. By saying, "God, you got this," the focus is on Christ - not on myself or on the task He gives. All excuses of why I am unworthy are eliminated, for He is with me. And when my eyes are fixed on Jesus - with the motivation of not just seeing where He leads but of knowing Him - I come to fear Him. The more I know God, the more I fear Him. And the more I fear Him, the less I fear other things. For the fear of the Lord leaves no room for fear of anything else. Inadequacies and unworthiness included.
I am not a nurse yet, or an English teacher, or a Sunday school teacher; I do not speak Khmer and am not familiar with the culture here; I am young and inexperienced. I am not qualified. Yet I will boast in my weaknesses and in Christ's power, confident that He will use me, for He is with me. What sweet comfort and joyous news that is!
But the Lord is with us. I hope this truth speaks to you in some way! May the Lord's presence be evident in your life today.
Love from Cambodia,