Posted by: Mike Willoughby | November 16, 2010

Here am I…

“Here am I!  Send me. “

This is a quote from the prophet Isaiah who is responding to the call of the Lord for someone to go and deliver the message of the Lord to the people.  These are five simple words that until recently were very difficult for me to speak in prayer or sing in song.  I felt that I should be willing to say those words in prayer, but at the same time it seemed like a very open-ended statement.  What if God’s response to my prayer was, “go to Africa and preach the Word?”  Am I willing to leave my life and relocate to Africa?  I have to be honest and confess that I would not choose to be any other place than where I am.  I felt that what I was saying to God was in essence, “Here am I.  Please don’t send me.”  Feeling drawn to say those words but unable or unwilling to say them without qualification left me feeling weak and inadequate.  If I am completely honest, I have to even say I felt guilty for my lack of unqualified commitment.

Recently I was spending some time in meditation and study and as is customary for me, I had my iTunes on shuffle mode and “Here I am” by the group Downhere popped up at the top of the playlist.  I was humming along with the song and the along came the words of the chorus, “Here I am, Lord send me” and the humming stopped as I came face-to-face with those words again.  What if He sends me to Africa?  I stopped the song and prayed to God that we find a way to get past this block.  I can’t be in a position to not be able to say words to God.  It’s just too painful and it gets in the way of my relationship with Him as you just read.  I know that according to II Timothy 1:7, God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  I felt like I had a spirit of fear rather than power.  Maybe I should be willing to go to Africa?  As I was sitting there in the silence thinking about Africa, it hit me that perhaps I was seeing this the wrong way.  Perhaps my preconceived notions about these words were getting in the way of God’s intended meaning.  Is it possible that I can say these words with some qualification and still be obedient?

I turned to Isaiah chapter 6 and read these words:

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

    “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.  And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

 Isaiah 6:1-8

Let’s look at the qualifications behind Isaiah’s commitment!

First, notice in the passage that God reaches out to Isaiah right where he was.  He didn’t ask Isaiah to relocate somewhere and there receive instructions.  Isaiah was exactly where God wanted him to be to accomplish His divine purpose.  Isaiah had a contemporary in Judah who was also called to be a prophet.  Look what God said to Jeremiah

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

“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.”

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.”

Jeremiah 1:4-8

To assume that Isaiah (or Jeremiah) needed to be in different place to accomplish God’s purposes would deny God’s sovereignty and call into doubt Isaiah and Jeremiah’s walk of faith.  I have been walking by faith for many years and I because of my belief in a sovereign God, I believe God has me exactly where He wants me to be for now.  My God is a mighty God.  I have been on the watch for open doors of opportunity in my life and so far I haven’t seen one labled, “Africa.”  If he wanted me to be preaching in Africa, I would not be living in Plano!  I know how that worked out for Jonah! 

Next notice that He found Isaiah according to His divine schedule and revealed himself to Isaiah in such a way that Isaiah would see with absolute clarity the glory of God and would know without doubt where he stands in relation to the glory of God.

Have I shared in Isaiah’s experience of coming face-to-face with the glory of God?  Yes, many times!  I have never seen Him in a vision like Isaiah, but I have seen Him reading the scriptures, in prayer, in the Spirit-led lives of my fellow believers and in simply paying attention to the testimony of nature.  Many times my initial reaction is the same as Jeremiah’s too.  I am weak and inadequate.  Please don’t send me.

Notice what God does to prepare Isaiah for His work.  He sanctifies Isaiah through His own divine power to accomplish His purposes.  God took care of the sin problem for Isaiah so Isaiah could be in a position to simply stand in God’s presence.  God didn’t cure Isaiah’s weakness or fix his inadequacies any more than he aged Jeremiah or instantly made him a better speaker.  He sanctified Isaiah and He promised to deliver Jeremiah.  He took care of the problem.

Do I share a sin problem with Isaiah and weaknesses, inadequacies and hesitancies with Jeremiah?  Clearly, I do!  However, I also share in Isaiah’s sanctification through Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross.  As for my weakness and inadequacy, God has promised to work through my human failings rather than in spite of them.  God doesn’t seem to call many powerful people to accomplish His purposes.  More often than not, He calls weak and frail folks just like me.  Through my weakness His power is made more evident when He makes something good happen from my efforts.

Finally, notice that only then after God has reached out to Isaiah, revealed himself to Isaiah, humbled Isaiah and healed and sanctified Isaiah does He call Isaiah.  Right there in that moment – in the middle of Isaiah’s walk of faith – God asks the question, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”

At exactly the place where God wanted Isaiah to be and at the exact time when God wanted to use Isaiah for His purposes within His sovereign plan and only after preparing Isaiah for His purposes does He ask the question, “Who will go for us?”

Because I trust that God has me exactly at the place where He wants me to be and because I know that He wants to use me for His purposes within His sovereign plan and only knowing that He has prepared me through His grace and mercy for His purposes do I now without hesitation say to God…

Here am I as a father, husband, shepherd, teacher, friend and businessman!

Here am I!  Send me.

The words to the song, Here I am by Downhere speak to the way I feel.  Perhaps many of you can agree.

Sometimes Your calling, comes in dream
Sometimes it comes in the Spirit’s breeze
You reach for the deepest hope in me
And call out for the things of eternity

But I’m a man, of dust and stains,
You move in me, so I can say

Here I am, Lord send me
All of my life, I make an offering,
Here I am, Lord send me
Somehow my story is a part of Your plan,
Here I am

When setbacks and failures, and upset plans
Test my faith and leave me with empty hands
Are You not the closest when it’s hardest to stand
I know that You will finish what You began

And these broken parts You will redeem
Become the song that I can sing

Here I am, Lord send me
All of my life, I make an offering,
Here I am, Lord send me
Somehow my story is a part of Your plan,
Here I am

Overwhelmed by the thought of my weakness
And the fear that I’ll fail You in the end
In this mess, I’m just one of the pieces,
I can’t put this together but You can

Here I am, Lord send me
All of my life, I make an offering,
Here I am, Lord send me
Somehow my story is a part of Your plan,
Here I am

Thank you, Lord for fixing my problem once again!  If you send me to Africa, please be patient with me as I get used to the idea!

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

 

Previous Intersections Articles

You have the power! No Authority Except from God! Confessions of an iPhone Addict

Responses

  1. Mike,
    Thanks for sharing your heart felt struggle and letting be a part of this growth experience. God Bless!

  2. i struggle with not being able to do enough for others but James sermon a week ago was comforting in that God has placed me (us) where he wants us to be and the place I am in with my job, family is where he wants me and I am content with that and I do anything extra that I can hope this helps

  3. Great article. Thanks for taking the time on this.

  4. Mike,
    Thanks for another insightful perspective…this is a great reminder to ernestly seek God’s will as we use the gifts that He has specifically given each of us in the places that He has put us.

    Have a great day, bro!
    RB


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