But, God…!

Earlier in the week, I went to our Wednesday morning text study where a few folks gather with an assignment to preach on a Sunday and coffee in hand. We prayed Sunday’s opening prayer which asks God to make us love what God commands. And then, while listening to the first reading, we heard Jeremiah’s excuses for why he couldn’t take on God’s assignment. (Jeremiah 1:4-10)

“I don’t know how to speak,.” Jeremiah said. “I’m only a boy,” he reminded God. No qualifications. No experience.

We knew exactly what Jeremiah was saying. What are our excuses, the group of coffee drinkers asked? Quickly some answers surfaced. Not enough time. I’ve never done it before. Someone else will do it if I don’t. I don’t know enough. It’s too hard. I’m too old. I’m too young. Because I’m a woman, said one. Another at the table admitted that he ran away from God’s call twice: he dropped out of seminary once, went back and later dropped out of a congregation. And yet there he was, sitting at the table with us.

This wasn’t just a discussion for those facing the unnerving task of speaking in front of a faith community. You are sitting at that table with us. What excuses keep any of us from doing what God calls us to do?

Do not be afraid of them, says the Lord. Do not be afraid of those excuses. Do not be afraid of those people to whom I am sending you. I’m going to protect you: I’ll see you through. Somehow or other, God has a way of putting out God’s hand and touching our mouths or our hands or our feet or our brains. Of saying, no excuses and getting us off our seats. Just like Jeremiah, our faith community needs God to move us beyond our excuses not to pull down, not to build, not to plant, not to trust that God gives the necessary gifts to serve when God calls.

No more excuses. No more hiding, Jeremiah. We’re on our way to answering God’s call when we can at least acknowledge the excuse that’s clinging.

But, God…!