Monday, 21 November 2016

Can you be inadequate and still be a disciple?

Jeremiah was just a teenager when he was tapped by God for a difficult job, students at Smithville Christian High School were told. 

Speaking at the first chapel of Spiritual Emphasis Week 2016, speaker Laura de Jong read Jeremiah 1 and said Jeremiah’s response to God was that he was not up to the task.

Just as de Jong, a reluctant runner, did not feel she was capable of running a half-marathon, Jeremiah did not feel he was capable of being God’s agent of doom to an audience of people who would definitely not want to hear his bad-news message, she said.

God’s people had broken their covenant with God and their near future included only death and destruction, de Jong said. But over Jeremiah’s protests, God’s response was “trust me. I got this. Just do it.”

What does that mean for us?

“Most of us are not called to be prophets in the traditional sense,” de Jong told students, “but all of us are called to be disciples.”

And just as de Jong accepted her friend’s challenge, downloaded a training app and bought new running shoes, Jeremiah did the things God told him to do. De Jong followed the app’s instructions, improved her stamina in small doses, and finished the race. Jeremiah obeyed God and confronted the powerful leaders of his day with the prophecies of impending disaster. But luckily for Jeremiah, he didn’t need an app or a six-point plan “because God was in control, not Jeremiah.”

Today, discipleship might require us to be counter-cultural, to remind people that they can’t buy happiness, that they can’t secure their safety or position at the expense of someone else, or that the people who think they have power or influence are not really in control because God is, she said.

“This is hard to do,” de Jong admitted. “It’s not going to make you popular or make you friends in high places.”

It’s also hard to do because it doesn’t always seem like God is in control, she said. There are conflicts on a global level, refugees fleeing their homes, ecological destruction, environmental disaster, starvation, parents who divorce, friends who have car accidents, sickness and uncertain futures after high school or post-secondary studies.

Yet it would be worse to think that we are in control, de Jong said, to think that we can rely on the latest smartphone, clothes, friends or career path.

“There is very little direction when following God’s plan, no charts or six-point plans for success,” she acknowledged. “But the beauty of God is that he is God and we are not.”

Twice God assures Jeremiah that he will be with him, and the same is true for us, even if we feel inadequate.

“God is with us and we are with God,” she said. “We don’t need to figure it out or have a plan or know how it will work out. God has the plan and we only need to run the distance that is needed for the day – walking if necessary.”

Sometimes, God’s provision is best seen in hindsight, she said. In Jeremiah’s case, we know how the story ended, that God rescued his people and sent a prince who died and rose again to save the whole world.

“We have a God who says ‘you are with me, I’ve got this,’ “ de Jong said.

“So lace up your shoes and follow.”

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A student praise team led in worship with "Build Your Kingdom Here," "Good, Good Father," and "Holy (Wedding Day)."

Chapel continues every morning this week at 9 a.m. (9:30 on Thursday). All are welcome.

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More about Laura de Jong           
Laura de Jong grew up in St. Catharines, and attended Beacon Christian High School. She studied History, English, and Congregational Ministry Studies at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she also led worship and worked in residence life. Laura is finishing up her Masters of Divinity at Calvin Theological Seminary, and hopes to do church ministry after graduation. She's a staunch defender of all things Canadian, is enjoying finally learning how to cook, and believes next year belongs to the Blue Jays.

To contact Laura de Jong or to find out more about where she's been or where she's going, check out LauradeJong

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