In the long history of the human species, God has heard a lot of excuses: Moses claimed he was too 'slow of speech'; Isaiah described himself as someone of ‘unclean lips’ - perhaps too quick to speak; David was ignored for being only a shepherd; Gideon excused himself for being too weak and unimportant; Peter ruled himself out for being a sinner; Esther was afraid of the consequences; Abraham and Zechariah both insisted they were too old for the task in question; and Jeremiah said he was too young.
In each case God dismissed the excuse. To Jeremiah he replied, ‘Don't say, “I'm only a boy” … Don't be afraid, for I am with you.’
It shouldn’t surprise us to realise that God sees us quite differently from how we see ourselves. Our own sense of what we can achieve is narrowed by our assumptions and aspirations, and limited by our fears and insecurities. Moses was running away from Egypt; Gideon didn't want to risk standing out from the crowd; Abraham was resigned to being childless; and Jeremiah was only a boy. But God could see beyond these limitations.
All of us are called to be prophets to some extent, to express the purposes and priorities of God as we understand them. But almost all of us excuse ourselves with convincing reasons why it is best for us to do nothing, or say nothing, and leave God’s work to someone else.
What's your excuse? Don’t expect God to agree.
God knows what you are capable of, and you will be surprised. It isn’t always easy or comfortable to follow God’s calling. Jeremiah knew that better than anyone. But don’t stand motionless on the starting line, paralysed by the limitations that you, or other people, have placed on your life. If God says ‘Don’t be afraid, for I am with you’, you can do it.