“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5
Before Jeremiah knew God, God knew Jeremiah. . . .
We are known before we know. This realization has a practical result: no longer do we run here and there, panicked and anxious, searching for the answers to life. Our lives are not puzzles to be figured out. Rather, we come to God, who knows us and reveals to us the truth of our lives. The fundamental mistake is to begin with ourselves and not God. God is the center from which all life develops. If we use our ego as the center from which to plot the geometry of our lives, we will live eccentrically. . . .
If we are going to live appropriately, we must be aware that we are living in the middle of a story that was begun and will be concluded by another. And this other is God.
My identity does not begin when I begin to understand myself. There is something previous to what I think about myself, and it is what God thinks of me. That means that everything I think and feel is by nature a response, and the one to whom I respond is God. I never speak the first word. I never make the first move.
Jeremiah’s life didn’t start with Jeremiah.Â Jeremiah’s salvation didn’t start withÂ Jeremiah.Â Jeremiah’s truth didn’t start withÂ Jeremiah. He entered the world in which the essential parts of his existence were already ancient history. So do we.Â Â – Eugene H. Peterson, Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best (InterVarsity Press, 1983, 37-8).
As I press toward completing my Doctor of Ministry thesis on Defining and Discerning Calling: Assisting a Student’s Academic Journey with a Focus upon Emerging Scholars Engaged in Postbaccalaureate Higher Education, I am regularly reminded of the temptation to focus upon “me.” This is in sharp contrast to my recent readings by / about Jeremiah and Daniel. As servants of the Lord, they pointed to the God of Israel in difficult times and work environments. Due to the gift of the Holy Spirit and call of the people of God to extend the Gospel to the ends of the earth, each one of us is to embrace the reality that we live mid-story as part of the Body of Christ. We are to give testimony to the God who is before, present, and after. This Lent I’ll post several short quotes and reflections to remind us to press on mid-story as Christ’s ambassadors in the context to which we have been called to serve the Lord. As a short exercise, join me in filling in the blanks — each one with your name as we offer our day / life to the Lord.
__________’s life didn’t start with __________. __________’s salvation didn’t start with __________. __________’s truth didn’t start with __________. __________ entered the world in which the essential parts of existence were already ancient history.
To God be the glory!
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!