“You can’t say Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you’ve got,” said Mother Teresa. This wonderful woman, she gave her life to the dying and destitute in India, could say that. Jesus was indeed all she had! She knew the truth of Jesus’ words, “Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25).
Baruch was assured that his life would be saved in the coming disaster, “I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life” (Jer. 45:5). His life was the most important thing in the world. Passion, position, or possessions mattered little in the end. God promised him his life, and that was all. In other words, He said to Baruch, “It’s not a fair world, Baruch, but at least you can be glad you have your life!”
God promised to save Baruch’s life and nothing more. He uses a phrase that describes his life as “a prize of war,” the booty a victorious army extracts from its victims. The word describes someone stripping prisoners of war of all their belongings before taking them off into slavery. I watched the Serbs stripping the Albanians at the height of the Kosovo crisis, I understood a little of the meaning of this word. Even the people’s passports and their legal identification, along with their landholding deeds and valuables, were stripped from them at the border crossings.
God warns Baruch that this will happen to him, but He promises that he will escape with his life. Baruch was to experience what the apostle Paul was to know years later. “Through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Cor. 6:8-10). Reduced to grace, down to God alone, God was going to be “God enough.”
Now it was Baruch’s time to respond to all of this divine attention. I believe there comes a time when God confronts us all with the choice that Baruch had at this point. Jeremiah had come to his grand submission in Jeremiah 10:23, saying, “I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.” So I believe Baruch repented of his pride and his ambition, made peace with Jeremiah, and set off at his side to finish the fight and keep the faith.
Would we have had the wonderful words of Jeremiah if Baruch had not surrendered his everything to God? If he had left Jeremiah and returned to the palace and his other work? I, for one, am grateful that he passed the test and soldiered on!
What a shout of joy the watching angels must have sounded at that moment! They knew that God is never limited by age, gender, culture, nationality, wealthy, poverty, education, or lack of it. Only our pride, prejudice, sheer selfishness, and refusal to submit to the call of God in our lives can limit what God can do through us!
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