A reflection on Jeremiah’s experience
“O LORD you seduced me and I was seduced. You have overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long…For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, Because for me the word of the LORD has resulted in reproach and derision all day long. But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.’” Jeremiah 20:7-.
The beginning of the text refers to Jeremiah’s first experience of God. This experience that changed his life, this experience that for Jeremiah “overcame” him. This is the moment that Jeremiah felt loved by God, this was the determining moment in which Jeremiah felt called to be God’s prophet. What a way to express this experience though? Seduction? But Jeremiah is pouring out his heart to God being very honest about how he feels. He feels like God’s love reeled him into this mess that he is now experiencing.
Jeremiah’s response to his personal experience of God’s love was not easy. His conviction however was unwavering. His experience of love was so strong that when he felt fear and confusion, not even this could bring doubt about his experience of love. The consequences of this response were severe. Eventually Jeremiah was killed for doing the mission God called him to do. He stated that he has become the “laughingstock;” that those around him didn’t understand why he couldn’t just live like everyone else.
The culmination of the text, is that Jeremiah expresses what he experiences when he does not complete his mission. He says that if he tries to pretend that he doesn’t know the truth, or if he does not proclaim it, in his heart he knows the truth, and he compares it to fire saying that the intensity is so strong that he cannot endure it. Jeremiah’s conviction was so defined, his calling was so clear, his relationship with God was so intimate that he could not deny the truth. Inside of his heart, he allowed God to ignite his heart with passion.
I don’t know about you, but I feel really connected to Jeremiah’s experience. His blunt honesty, and his ability to be real to God and himself inspires me. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt like Jeremiah, I have just wanted to take some steps back. This has been very evident during my vocational discernment process. There have been many occasions where I have mustered up some very similar prayers to this one from Jeremiah. I question whether if I could just rewind some things, take a few steps back I can live in a “normal” or “regular” lifestyle, I can forget about all this “religious life” stuff and lead a normal life. Trust me I’ve tried. But this fire Jeremiah talks about, its real! It’s something so deep its like “inside my bones” and I am forced to face the truth that this is not my illusion, or my enterprise, this is the divine and mysterious action of God in me, and I surrender…