“I am only a Youth”

By Hannah Kessler, Partnership Coordinator

A few weeks ago I found myself in a room training to become a disaster case manager. I took a moment to reflect on the events that led me to this position in Clendenin, West Virginia. As I reflected,  I looked around the room at all the other individuals represented at this training. We were all there for the same reason. We were there to walk alongside flood survivors. Even if that meant being trained on and learning about the complications of duplication of benefits and failed income testing.

I noticed the commonality amongst us, as we simply desire to respond to what happened in Clendenin in any way that will make a difference. A group of compassionate, hard-working people. The commonalities were obvious. But instead of including myself into each of these categories of similarity, the first thing I noticed was the age difference I faced among this group.

Almost everyone in the room had me beat by 20+ years. They had so much more experience than I did. Some had been case managers years ago, and were just being updated on new procedures. Some had worked in other organizations, but still as a case manager. Many have a background in long-term disaster recovery. If they didn’t have any of these things, they at least knew what it was like to have homeowners or flood insurance, and the value of home ownership.

I still own the car my father bought for me years ago. I’m not sure that I even have a credit score. 

As I called my mom after my training was over, I was explaining to her everything I had learned. So many problems were swirling in my head that I couldn’t solve. After a 10 minute non-stop rambling, my mom asked me a simple question, “So do you still want the job?”

Do I? She was right to ask this question. I had just finished telling her all of the little things that simultaneously intrigued, yet baffled me about this new position.

Do I still want the job?

As you may already know, the answer was yes. I said “You know what mom…. I do. Because I would rather be here, as a 22 year old with a learning curve a mile wide, than be sitting in that room as a 55 year old looking at the young girl across from me thinking, I wish I had started when I was her age.”

Jeremiah 1:5 begins with a very familiar verse:  “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.” But if we keep reading verses 6-8 we realize Jeremiah’s answer to God’s statement wasn’t a resounding “Yay! Okay! Let’s go!!”

This is what actually happened:

Then I said “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares The Lord.”’

Why do we doubt that God is in control? Do we believe He created us? Do we believe He saved us in His son Jesus? Do we believe we will one day enjoy Him fully forever?

Then why in the world can we not believe that He can sustain us for this day?!

We say we believe that, but when you get a bad phone call or someone is short with you or you think you aren’t actually clever enough or old enough or experienced enough to do what He has obviously placed you in a position to do… We suddenly doubt His goodness. We doubt He is actually cares, that He is actually sovereign and that He actually can, and does, work all things for our good and His glory.

Be encouraged today, and tomorrow and the next, that you aren’t alone in this feeling. I feel it, and Jeremiah felt it many years ago, too. But next time the Lord lets you in on just a glimpse of His plans, remember His promise: “For to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”

Not only did He make us for these opportunities, but He commands us to do them in obedience. And best of all? He promises to be with us along the way.