“[H]is word is in my heart like a fire,
A fire shut up in my bones;
I am weary of holding it in;
Indeed, I cannot.”
~Jeremiah 20:9b, c (NIV).
One thing I noted in my recent frenzied ‘friend farming’ is the number of very passionate Christ-followers there are in the broader world. I think it entirely fair to say that Jeremiah didn’t see things anywhere near as optimistically—though he did live pre-Christ.
Browsing the early-going in Jeremiah there’s a pretty standard theme of Israel’s apostasy and faithlessness, with repeated warnings spelt out from the Lord through the prophet to return to their first love; that the sacrifices and burnt offerings without a heart for obedience are meaningless and totally worthless to God (Jer. 6:20).
But it’s the above-quoted verse that most caught my eye afresh.
It explains the passion with which meets our reading of the message. Jeremiah was obviously, in some ways, a very reluctant prophet. He’d tried to assuage his anguish. This was due to the torment of a heartless people bent on rack and ruin causing him much sorrow and persecution, so bad he stopped prophesying.
But that lasted only so long; the passion for him (and for us now) burned deep within—to his very bones. This would have carried with it a much concretised image in the pre-millennial Jewish reader.
This helps us in our disillusionment. We all get disillusioned in trying to do good, preaching the Word of God in whatever way seems right and anointed for us. It’s a necessarily long journey. There are not many positions for a C.H. Spurgeon, a John Piper or an A.W. Tozer to dwell. And nor does everyone have to be “Superpastor” to feel and exercise that same burden to preach God’s good news.
God’s instruction is simply to start. Learn, study, then start—and keep studying!
God needs each of us spreading our little pieces of joyous, hope-filled sunshine—broadening the coverage of our lamp on the hill. Once we’re bitten by the bug that is God’s holy Word, captivated by his Spirit, of course we cannot help heralding him who has saved us!
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.