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 (ESV)
I have heard it said many times that the Holy Spirit (God) is a gentlemen and will not go where he is not wanted or invited. To be honest I bought in to that idea for many years and maybe to some degree it is true, but I’m just not sure to what degree.
In pondering over this idea I asked myself: Was Paul inviting Jesus to save him while on the road to Damascus or was Paul’s salvation a sovereign act of God? Did Paul ask to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17)? Did Paul ask to be chosen by God to carry his name to the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15)? At the time of his conversion, Paul was persecuting the church and was on his way to Damascus with orders from church leaders to arrest and imprison Christians (Acts 9). He wasn’t asking the Holy Spirit to save him or fill him or call him. Paul thought he was doing God’s will.
God chose Paul and preordained Paul’s life mission. Yes, Paul yielded (Acts 9:11), but it was because God had separated him from his mother’s womb and called him by his grace to reveal his son in him and that he might preach the gospel among the Gentiles (Galatians 1:15-16). God had a plan for Paul’s life and neither asked permission nor received an invitation to see it through.
Another question I asked myself was: Did John the Baptist invite the Holy Spirit to fill him when he was in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15)? Gabriel told Zacharias God’s plan for John before John was born (Luke 1:12-15). The Holy Spirit (God) does not need anyone’s permission or invitation to fulfill his plans (Isaiah 46:9-10). He gives gifts as he wills (Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Ephesians 2:8; 4:8).
What about Jeremiah? God told Jeremiah that before he was born he was consecrated and appointed to be a prophet to the nations. Did God ask Jeremiah’s permission or wait to be invited? God also told Jeremiah that he had a relationship with him before Jeremiah was formed in his mother’s womb. Was there ever a doubt that Jeremiah would be a prophet to the nations? Was there ever a real “chance” that Jeremiah would refuse God’s plan for his life? It seems that God formed Jeremiah’s heart in such a way as to insure that he would choose God’s calling and plan.
King David wrote, My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:15-16 ESV) David said that God literally squeezed his days into shape like a potter does clay. Does the potter first get permission from the clay before forming it?
We can have confidence that God will lead us to his plan for our lives. We will fulfill the purpose for which we were created. You see, Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21 ESV)
Are you trusting God to fulfill his plan for your life?
Scriptures for meditation:
Proverbs 16:33; 21:1