Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Not only does this verse speak hope and faith into my life, but it also fills my mind and my heart with the kind of wonder that is profound beyond my ability to fully grasp, like floating in a crystal clear ocean sized swimming pool. In my mind, I take the journey slowly back through my adulthood, before careers, before children, before marriage – I travel back through college, through dating and high school. I journey through adolescence and the few brief memories I have as a very young child. Then, my imagination takes me back through the womb, and even before conception. My mind wanders into a white and open space. There are no walls, there is no beginning, and there is no end – just an endless soft white space.
In this space, there are multitudes of formless people, almost like foggy white shapes that hint at their future humanity. Each one standing in the group awaiting their turn to enter the world as a newly conceived baby.
I realize this train of thought may seem a little odd, and I’m certainly not claiming this is how it happens – I’m just entertaining the idea that God is communicating in this short verse. Before you and I were ever conceived, God knew us. And this inquiring mind really wants to know what was going on during that space of eternity before I was born. I can’t help but wonder what it might have been like. I wonder if I was aware of what was happening. I wonder if I was able to consciously perceive my environment. When the Bible says that God knew me, does that mean that even before I was born, my soul and my spirit shared moments with God that simply can’t translate into thoughts that have been limited by our human experience? (I’m really not wanting to get granola responses to this, I’m just imagining what it was like.
Back to my imagination. I can imagine God, the really big white figure, singling out one of the masses and taking him by the little foggy white hand and pulling him aside. Since this is my imagination, I’m the little foggy white figure – If you’re not crazy about being a little foggy white figure, you can be whatever you want in your imagination. Here’s the part that I love though. It says in the verse, that before we were formed, He knew us, separated, and appointed us. In this space before our time began, God looked into our yet unformed eyes with perfect love as He stared into a soul unblemished by a lifetime of sin He began to make me (and you) different from every other faceless soul. He began to shape a purpose for my life that was specific and unique only to me. He found the perfect parents, in the perfect town, within the perfect country, and within the perfect generation to lead me to the doorsteps of my destiny. They would not be perfect in themselves, far from it in fact, but they would be the perfect ingredients in the recipe for my life. In this moment, as your shapeless life began to take the form of a unique destiny, God also appointed you for a mission. All of the good in your life, your past, your weaknesses, your abilities, your friends, and even those people who have acted as enemies have all in one way or another equipped you for a job that only you are qualified for.
And once again, in my imagination – I’m no longer a foggy white figure, I’m now the 35 year old man that I see in the mirror, and I’m looking into the face of the one who was my Father before I ever had an earthly father. As He looks into my eyes – He sees me, and I see Him. In that single brief moment before conception – my spirit is seared with the indelible mark of God.
And, as I fast forward back to the future – I see the times in my life when my Spirit has caught glimpses of the Divine. Like smelling a the most beautiful and familiar fragrance, but not being able to place it’s origin, without being able to understand why, I long to stand before the One who these earthly eyes have never seen. I long to once again hear the voice that these ears of flesh have never heard. I long to look into the eyes of the Father of creation and touch the scarred hand that these human fingers have never touched.
I wonder if perhaps the ‘God space’ within the deepest part of our being is a result of catching the briefest glimpse of heaven before entering earth. Perhaps that is why absolutely nothing outside of God can satisfy us at the core of our soul. Perhaps we already know that there is so much more to living than anything this life could possibly offer. Perhaps we already know that even if we lived past the age of 100, life is just an intricately designed set of doors into eternity where all of the real fun begins. I enjoy life, and I’m not looking for it to end any time soon, but it does make you wonder doesn’t it …perhaps?