October 6, 2009

A Breath of Life from a Dead Prophet

The Old Testament is a tough read. Some of you avoid it at all costs. Others have read it in full— more than once. For years I stuck to the New Testament and avoided the Old altogether because it seemed so irrelevant and well, old. Besides, what could I learn from fantastical stories about arks and giants and big fish?

Turns out a lot.

My fourth grade knowledge of the Bible's most ancient text did a grave disservice to its complexity and depth of insight. I've found the more I venture into the Old Testament, the more I learn about God. The more I learn, the more awestruck I am of His Word—all of it.

Last week when I wrote about Jeremiah 29:11, I did some research on Jeremiah. In doing so I became intrigued and figured it was about time I tackled this book, the longest in the Bible.

However, since I recently struggled through reading Isaiah, I wasn't real anxious to read another prophet (there’s only so much wrath and destruction one can take.) But where Isaiah starts right off with divine anger, Jeremiah begins with tenderness.

I was unprepared to encounter God so gentle. So intimate. So patient. So loving.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”

But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.

Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” (1:5-10)

I’m tangled in those words. Lost in His tender affirmation. Conscious of the still small voice that whispers to my soul:

“Kelli, long before you came to be, I knew you. I formed you and set you apart. You may not understand it, but I have a plan for your life. But, I need you to follow me.”

“But Lord, I don’t have what it takes. I’m too inexperienced. I’m filled with such doubt. Don’t you see all those more qualified?”

God replied, “Hush child, don’t forget that I see you not as you are, but as you will become. I didn’t create you to live in fear; I created you to fulfill my plans for your life. You must do as I say and go where I lead you. But remember you won’t be alone, I’m with you every step of the way. I made you, how can you doubt me?”

“Lord, I want to believe. Help my unbelief.”

God gently touched my lips, “Shh. I am giving you the words to say, the thoughts to write, the heart to love. As you follow my lead, you’ll go to many places and meet many people. Sometimes the message you carry will be easy, other times it will be difficult. Through it all, take heart because I’m with you and I’ll take care of you. Now let's get started.”

Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak
Lyrics by Mercy Me


Runner Mom said...

Hey, Kelli! This was wonderful--I am relating with you throughout! It took me until last fall to take a Bible Study on the old testament, and I am so thankful that I was obedient! You're right--you learn so much about God from these prophets! I am ready to move on from Isaiah myself! We're only on chapter 47!! But, God has revealed so much to me! Thank you!

Love ya!

Sassy Granny ... said...

"... tangled in those words." How precious and vivid! I dare say any of us that have spent much time in God's word find ourselves tangled there too; or maybe we're just being held firmly by that same gentle hand you've found in Jeremiah.

The verse in Jeremiah that always catches me off guard is 12:5. It always reminds me to lean hard into the Lord rather than be buffeted by life's simple challenges. Tougher ones could (and probably will) arrive.

Blessings, friend.


Dan said...

Wow-you are so much better at this (trusting/following/ listening for God) than I am. Thanks-I think I needed to hear that today.

Linda said...

Wow. Thanks. Much needed.

Analisa said...

Wonderful. I was like that too about the old testament as time passed I got so much from it. It also helped me understand the new testament more.

I love that God has touched and guided you. It shows. Your blog is a blessing.

Kelly Combs said...

Such wonderful words today, and I love that song. I especially like "don’t forget that I see you not as you are, but as you will become."

May we strive to show each other that mercy as well.

Sue J. said...

I could definitely stand to spend some quality time with the prophets. What is difficult is seeing the sinfulness of God's chosen and the Father's response. When we think about living in the end-times, we need to embrace the message that these prophets were bringing to the people in their day.

I do love how both Isaiah and Jeremiah are brought into God's presence and transformed before us through the pages of Scripture. We may not be prophets, but we can be transformed just as they were.

Plenty to embrace in the Old Testament. Slow bits at a time. Looking at the wider context. Sure...bringing in the NT for amplification. The OT needs its own revival.

Thanks for starting your readers off in thinking about that, if they haven't thought about that already!

Nice personalization, too--God's Word is meant to be taken personally.

Carmen said...

What a beautiful post! The OT sure is full of unexpected wisdom and meaning that is easily missed without dilligent study and meditation. Such delicate morsels amidst such chaos. You made me feel special to Him. Thank you!

Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, I love the Mercy Me song. What a privilege and responsibility we have as writers...

If you get a chance, pop over to my blog -- I posted about a huge answer to prayer for our family.

Blessings to you and yours!

Jody Hedlund said...

Oh, I love that song! We sing it in church from time to time!

And you're right. The OT is often so intimidating. I've found as I've gone back and studied ancient history, the pages of the OT have come alive in a way they never did before.

I love your prayer and the way God spoke to you through Jeremiah! Thanks for sharing it!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I am one of those shy away from the old testament girls, but I think you've converted me. I need to really take a closer look for these wonderful gems like you found in Jeremiah.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Prophetic words, then and now. Thank you for bringing them to the surface for me... again.


Julie Gillies said...

Wow, Kelli, I really needed to read this. I spoke on Tuesday at a women's group and really struggled afterwards with feeling less than able. Ugh. Growing pains, I think.

Thank you for sharing the conversation between you and God. I know He is able, and I know that if I keep my eyes on Him and the people to whom I minister, His grace will be sufficient.

Irritable Mother said...

I am on my second time of reading through the Bible chronologically and have come to realize that I love the Old Testament.
Used to avoid it like the plague - except for Psalms - because it was so confusing to me. But reading through it slowly, consistantly, and chronologically helped me so much. I still am often "lost" in the who's, what's and why's but I have discovered I don't need to be a seasoned Bible scholar for God to speak to my heart through His Word. Even if it comes from the OT! *grin*
BTW, I love, love, LOVE that song!!!

janicole said...

I love the video and the song! And God has revealed many to us that we don't even know.
Christian fiction

sonja said...

So many of the same thoughts I've been having, even the song, which is on my blog as well. Thanks so much for the beautiful words.