Jeremiah grew up and was called to preach as a prophet for the Lord’s purpose in an incredibly dark and depressing time. He was crafted in the womb, planned out before the Creation of the world had even begun. Before the existence of anything, he was already planned to accomplish God’s goals.
This is evident in Jeremiah 1:5:“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.” God knew him personally before he existed. He knew his heart, his mind, his gifts and he had a specific plan for him before he was even born –he was going to be a faithful preacher. He wouldn’t be able to do anything else. Clearly, preaching was hardwired into his being by the ultimate designer and Creator Himself: God.
Dark Times; A Dark Call:
God also knew that Jeremiah would grow up in incredibly apostate times where apostasy, rebellion, death, sin and punishment would be rampant. The call to preach would not be easy, but it would so impressed upon his heart. It would be what he was designed to do and he would be sure of it; the call would be an overwhelming call since the book of Jeremiah foreshadows and leads to Israel’s destruction –destruction Jeremiah was called and born to preach against, to warn against.
Not only were the times and age tough for a prophet called to speak truth in a dark time, but in his ministry and call to preach he was threatened to be killed many times. He even regretted being born at certain times (Jeremiah 15:10). Despite all of above and all he went through Jeremiah had incredible tenacity and obedience to preach the Word day-in and day-out to people who would never listen to him, until one day he had enough.
The Gift of Preaching; A Curse:
Jeremiah was at the end of his rope and at the end of being ridiculed, thrown in jail, beaten and afflicted he cried out to God and accused God of cursing him and deceiving him with this gift of preaching and the text implies he considered quitting preaching in Jeremiah 20:7-8:
You deceived[a] me, Lord, and I was deceived[b];
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
8 Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the Lord has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
A Burden; A Call To Preach:
Yet, in all Jeremiah’s frustration he was perplexed with a difficult paradox of life: he was frustrated and wanted to quit, yet his true inner heart desires — the true inner heart desires God had placed in his heart — were compelling him to preach, no matter what. We see this in Jeremiah 20:9:
But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his 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.
Here we see Jeremiah’s perplexion immediately solved. In one breath and one sentence he was perplexed, confused, angry and wanted to quit; yet in another breath and another consecutively following sentence, after Jeremiah breaks down and mentions his curse to preach and communicates his frustration with God, he immediately realizes that he cannot stop preaching no matter how frustrated and tired of preaching he is. It’s all he knows; all he is designed to do. The language he uses shows us this when he says: “his 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.”
Bringing It Together:
Jeremiah’s life is the perfect example in accessing spiritual signs for preaching. In some of his darkest moments and when he was the most upset with God, he realized he was designed to preach. There was a fire shut up with in his bones and he could do nothing else. He had to preach. It’s all he knew and his passion just poured out. He didn’t have to force it to happen; he just knew deep within his bones that every fiber of his being was designed and primed to preach.
When you look at your life, your gifts and the call on your life, and when you wrestle with what it looks like to follow God’s will consider Jeremiah’s fire and passion to preach. Do you have a similar passion and desire? Do you find at times you try to do other things but the passion and fire burning deep within you causes you to stand up and preach no matter what you try to do? If so, you are probably called to preach, and you must follow God on this endeavour –it’s the only way you will be satisfied.
When thinking of calling and trying to figure out if you are called to preach, be careful not to spiritualize and make mystical your calling to preach by stressing out and forcing it. Instead, look at your heart through a microscope and look closely for occurring patterns in your life. If God doesn’t want you to preach, he won’t give you a burning passion. Don’t put a burden on yourself that is not there. Jeremiah realized even if he was to quit, he wouldn’t know what else to do. This should be the case for us, as preachers, when we discern if we are called to preach –there should be an undeniable passion to preach God’s Word, so much that it is shut up in your bones!
For more resources on accessing your calling, you can also read a previous article I wrote here: 10 Signs You May Be Called To Preach or visit the facebook page of a project for Pastor’s I started called: 180 Pastor for additional weekly resources.