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.”Jeremiah 1:4-5
What is God doing in this world? And what is our part to play in it? These are questions that Eugene Peterson answers brilliantly in his book, “Run With the Horses.” I have been reading and enjoying this book so much that I thought I would share this short devotion with you today.
In the passage that I am getting ready to share, Peterson is reflecting on Jeremiah 1:4-5 (quoted above). This is an incredible message from the Lord for Jeremiah, but what does it mean for us? Here is Peterson’s answer to that important question:
What is God doing? He is saving; he is rescuing; he is blessing; he is providing; he is judging; he is healing; he is enlightening. There is a spiritual war in progress, and all-out moral battle. There is evil and cruelty, unhappiness and illness. There is superstition and ignorance, brutality and pain. God is in continuous and energetic battle against all of it. God is for life and against death. God is for love and against hate. God is for hope and against despair. God is for heaven and against hell. There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square foot of space is contested.
Jeremiah, before he was born, was enlisted on God’s side in this war. He wasn’t given a few years in which to look around and make up his mind which side he will be on, or even whether he would join a side at all. He was already chosen as a combatant on God’s side. And so are we all. No one enters existence as a spectator. We either take up the life to which we have been consecrated or we traitorously defect from it.
God is out to win the world in love and each person has been selected in the same way that Jeremiah was, to be set apart to do it with him. He doesn’t wait to see how we turn out to decide to choose or not to choose us. Before we were born he chose us for his side – consecrated us.Eugene Peterson, “Run with the Horses”
Wow. Before we were born, we were chosen for God’s side. In this time of “evil and cruelty, unhappiness and illness” (which is every time since the fall, right?), God is “in continuous and energetic battle against all of it.” And so are we! Like Jeremiah, we have been chosen, consecrated, set apart by God to take part in this battle – this battle against evil and cruelty and unhappiness and illness and hate and despair and against hell itself. We have been enlisted on God’s side, to “win the world in love,” and we either take up this life to which we have been called or we abandon it.
We are not here to be spectators, Peterson reminds in these powerful words, but to help God win the world in love. May God grant us the will, the strength, and the courage to do this. Amen