Have you ever been STOPPED by Scripture? I’m not talking about those cute memory verses that you have hanging on your refrigerator that you never glance at. I’m not talking about the bookmark that your mom gave you at your 3rd grade graduation that has some fluffy, cute biblical antidote written in cursive.
I’m talking about those powerful passages of God’s living and active Word that so sink into your soul that leave you breathless, broken and disturbed – yet wanting more of such divine disturbance. These are portions of the sacred Scriptures that, for you, have become your true north, your compass and plumb line.
Jeremiah 20:9 is one of those in my life.
Before you read it (I’m sure you probably already beat me to the punch), I want to give you some context.
The prophet Jeremiah was the reluctant preacher. I’m sure that if he would have read my previous blog post, he would have fully agreed. He was young. In fact, he thought that he was too young to be God’s spokesman for his generation. After fighting the calling, he finally accepted. And boy, what a roll-coaster ride of ministry he was blessed with!
Jeremiah had the wonderful mission of trying to communicate to backslidden Judah their need to repent and turn back to God, or else God was going to destroy them just like He did with their northern counterparts, Israel.
Despite using almost every possible creative analogy and imagry he could think of, Jeremiah’s message was landing on cold, calloused ears. They weren’t listening. They were mocking him. They thought he was crazy. And he wanted to give up.
In fact he tried. He tried to get out of the ministry. He tried to go work for Lowes. He tried to “fit in and become a just a church member.” He tried…to no avail.
Enter Jeremiah 20:9. This records this prophet’s honest attempt of shutting up. Getting out of the ministry. Calling it quits. Hanging up his ministry spikes.
Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him
Nor speak anymore in His name.”
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
I was weary of holding it back,
And I could not.
Dude! Just reading that lights me up. It stirs my heart and sets me ablaze. This, to me, is a healthy sense of internal combustion.
That one verse has the ability to recalibrate my systems and set me on a new trajectory.
The rest of the story…
The reason why this is so powerful to me is because I was at the place Jeremiah was in ministry. A few years ago I had gotten to the point of utter frustration andexhaustion working IN the ministry. Here’s the problem: I had allowed my ministry FOR God to eclipse my relationship WITH God.
I had allowed the pressures, stress, weight and negative influences to detract me from the mission that I KNEW God has placed on my heart to fulfill. Stealing the words of Jeremiah, I told myself, “If this is what ministry is all about ‘I will not speak anymore in His name.’”
However, the next part of that verse is a game changer. “But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.”
Even as I type this, tears flow onto the keypad. Why? Because that’s my life. I can’t hold this in. God’s Word is too powerful, too life-changing, too transformative, too amazing to hold it in. It is a fire that must burn brightly from within me.
And I’m not alone! I know that there are others out there who are tempted to throw in the ministry towel. You might have allowed the pressures, stresses and daily obligations of life to beat you into its submission. And you are ready to give in.
Maybe, just maybe, God wants to flip the switch in your calloused heart and ignite a soul-stirring passion once again in your inner chambers with a hunger for God and a desire for revival.
Fan the flame of that fire in your bones. It’s there. Trust me, it’s there. It may be smoldering. It may look extinguished. But God’s Word, if once sparked in your heart, is still alive somewhere in there. Determine today to become like Jeremiah and all of us reluctant “Jeremiahs” out there…who knows, you might just be the one to change the course of your generation…forever!