But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord
or speak in his name,
his word burns in my heart like a fire.
It’s like a fire in my bones!
I am worn out trying to hold it in!
I can’t do it!
-Jeremiah 20:9 (NLT)
I have heard a particular portion of this verse quoted many times at various church services. The, “like a fire shut up in my bones” (kjv here) has been used as a way of describing the Holy Spirit inside of a believer that gives them supernatural anointing. And while that sounds nice, here, we see that Jeremiah isn’t referencing the Holy Spirit. But, rather, he is speaking of the message of God – the word that God has put in him to proclaim to the people!
Poor Jeremiah has come to be known as “the weeping prophet” because, as he acknowledges in this chapter, he always has a message of doom and gloom for the people. He is afraid that the people will come against him because of his message. In fact, he has already been persecuted because of it. So, it’s understandable why poor Jerry is tired of speaking for God. Because up to this point, speaking for God has felt like an unbearable task. But I would like to lift some encouragement from Jerry’s words here for all of those, like me and Jerry, who are/have been afraid to say yes to God’s call to proclaim God’s message to the world.
Have you ever felt like God was calling you to do something radical? I know I have! I am a preacher and that is NO SMALL TASK! Beyond the preaching part though, the most significant part in fact, is that I have to minister God’s love, grace, mercy, compassion, justice, reconciliation, etc. to the world. And I know, I know, the world is a HUGE place! Good thing I’m not the only one that God has called!
But what Jeremiah, or Jerry, and I share in common, which I suspect we share with so many other people, is that God has deposited something in us that is not meant for us to keep to ourselves! In fact, that’s what Jeremiah is expressing here! That when he tries to keep God’s deposit to himself, the deposit won’t leave him alone! What God has deposited in him, he describes as a fire in his bones because it’s not meant for him to hold on to it!
Doesn’t that sound familiar? God has given you a task that you want to say no to, you want to ignore, you want it to go away…but it won’t! God has deposited something in you but every time you ignore it, it seems like everywhere you turn you are reminded of the deposit. Somebody says something that brings it to mind. Something happens around you that stirs up the deposit in you.
Maybe God called you to be a minister in the church and you want to run away from it but every time you try, you get a sermon idea or you feel a burning in your heart to aid those in need. Or maybe God called you to be a social worker, or a doctor, or a police officer, or a worship leader, or a community organizer, or wherever you fit but EVERY SINGLE TIME you try to run from it, you see or hear something that stirs up in you the desire or thought of aiding that need. My friend, do not think that this stirring is a mistake. It is not by chance that you feel a burning to do God’s work!
While it may not be that you’re facing persecution for a doom and gloom prophesy like our dear friend Jeremiah, there is still something to learn from his experience in this moment. When you try to ignore or stifle God’s deposit but it won’t go away…when it feels like a fire stirring up in your bones, listen to it! You have found the sound of your genuine (Howard Thurman). And I know it can be scary but trust God that you are not the only one having that experience. Many have gone before you, like Jeremiah, who wanted to run from the call. But when you’ve been called to something, no matter how far you run, the call will run with you!
You’ll never be fulfilled until you release what God has deposited in you. Will you listen to the fire? Will you release God’s deposit to the world?