I enjoy watching the Summer Olympics. I missed them this year but hope to see them rescheduled for next summer. I like the races, which show the strength, speed, and agility of the runners. I like watching the runners put their feet carefully in the starting blocks. They set and reset their feet so they will get a strong start. A good start may not win you the race, but a good start is often the first step to victory. It is good that the race official says, “On your mark, get set, go.” Some have shortened that to “ready, set, go.” I find it odd that the runners are told to ready themselves since they have often spent most of their lives getting ready for that very moment.
In Jeremiah 1, we read about God’s call to Jeremiah. He was called to serve God and speak for God during a terrible time in Judah’s history. He was later an eyewitness to the fall of Judah to Babylon and saw the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. God told him everyone would oppose him and he could never marry and have a family. And this all likely happened when he was still a teenager.
After visions and a commissioning from God, God told him, “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them (Jeremiah 1:17 NIV).”
Notice the order of this command. The verse says to get ready. Then Jeremiah was to stand. Then he was to accurately give God’s complete message. Jeremiah was to do this without fear but fully understanding that God would hold him responsible and that any disobedience would have consequences.
When I recently read this verse, the “Get yourself ready!” grabbed my attention. I wondered how I can get myself ready, so I reflected on this verse. God spoke to Jeremiah with at least three command verbs.
“Get yourself ready.”
The idea here is to prepare yourself. During my trip to Lesotho, South Africa, I learned the Basotho people have an expression for getting ready to leave their homes daily. They say they are preparing themselves. They bathe and dress in preparation for daily business, home or otherwise.
We understand this. We prepare ourselves. We steel ourselves as if we are expecting bad news. We pack our bags for trips. Jeremiah’s preparation probably had physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects. One of my best students told me about how troubled he once was because he seldom had the opportunity to preach. Then he said God sort of smacked him when he had the thought, “You are not ready. Why should I send you opportunities?” Immediately this student started writing sermons. And, the invitations started coming. He learned the lesson of preparation.
Jeremiah had to take a position of readiness. He was about to suffer for the message God gave him. God was going to make him a strong wall. But, he could not be ready laying down. He assumed the position of readiness.
“Say to them whatever I command you.”
God gave Jeremiah a message. He was charged to tell the matter God had given him. He was not free to say whatever he wanted to say. He was to be a messenger who stayed true to the message he was commanded to give.
I hope you can identify with Jeremiah’s charge. If you are a student, you are clearly in preparation. I would suggest every one of us is being prepared to give a message God wants to be known. We are also required to take a position of readiness. We are to stand up, plant our feet, and stand ready to engage. Finally, we have a message. When I think about the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, we hear this charge echoed again. We have a message. There is truth to proclaim and Truth has a name, Jesus.
Take a Jeremiah-inventory. Measure your life; assess your position. Are you getting ready for the next opportunity? Are you in a position to engage? Can you proclaim God’s message? God holds us accountable, so let’s do these things in His service, use His Word and be empowered by His Spirit.