Here I Am
It’s the seventh year of the Trojan War. And in the Greek camp, the great general and king Agamemnon converses with his lieutenants and fellow kings. He wonders why his commanders seem so pessimistic and downcast. For although their siege of Troy has met with little success so far, he feels they should welcome the adversity that the long war represents, since only in difficult times can greatness emerge. Nestor, the oldest of the Greek commanders, echoes his argument.
“In the reproof of chance
Lies the true proof of men.”
Certain circumstances can produce mettle in men. The ability to cope well when faced with difficulties or even the unknown. Throughout history we are reminded of men and women who chose to endure what seemed unendurable, and thereby opened up the possibility of prevailing. They embraced hope rather than despair. They exemplified a quality of faith so powerful and reassuring that it caused them not to shrink, but to embrace the heart’s inexhaustible proclivity to populate the future with hope.
To say when asked, “Yes, I will go.”
I’m reminded of the statement made by Isaiah in the year King Uzziah died. I find it simply remarkable and impressive especially in light of its context. Despite his feelings of inadequacy for the task at hand, Isaiah’s reply to God displays a fortitude that is quite revealing.
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
Isaiah had received a vision of what was to happen to God's people consequentially for their rebellion against and forgetfulness of Him. They had begun to take credit for their prosperity and forgot the source of all of their blessings. And so, the Lord pronounces an indictment against the nation of Judah and Jerusalem. Then we come to the 6th chapter where Isaiah receives a vision of the Lord. And his answer to God’s call.
“Here I am! Send me.”
With a heart that was cleansed by the Lord, Isaiah did not hesitate. He answered emphatically and without hesitation, "Send me." Isaiah does not even know what he is getting into. There is no job description given. The Lord just asked who would go for them. Who should the Lord send? Isaiah does not know what he has to do, but he will do whatever the Lord asks because rather than being ruined, doomed, and destroyed, Isaiah has been lifted up.
After his response, the Lord tells Isaiah to go preach to the people. Tell them that they can keep on hearing but won’t understand. Keep on seeing but you are not going to see and understand (Isaiah 6.9-10). The message that Isaiah is given are words that will harden the people’s hearts and keep them from being healed. They would not respond favorably to the message. And yet we see Isaiah’s willingness to go and keep on prophesying until the nation was laid waste from God’s judgement upon them.
What boldness! What courage! What determination!
“Here I am! Send me.”
There is a meditation that is recited in Jewish synagogues by the cantor prior to Rosh Hashanah. It stands apart from the myriad pages of praise and supplication that are given in the first-person plural. This particular prayer is worded in the first-person singular. A prayer of preparation and humility.
A powerful word in Hebrew that is summed up by three words in English: “Here I am.” It is a way of expressing a total readiness to give of oneself. It’s an offer of total availability. It’s the same kind of devoted readiness we find in Isaiah. And in others. When David is fleeing from the wrath of Saul, there’s an emotional discourse we find in 1 Samuel 20 between he and Jonathan:
“Whatever you say, I will do for you.”
1 Samuel 20.4b
Jonathan made a promise to his beleaguered friend. It is the same kind of devoted readiness as the shout of “hineni”.
“Here I am.”
Are we ready to display the same kind of promptitude? Ready to act quickly and without delay? Are we prepared to endure the unendurable? For Him and His kingdom? God has already shown His great willingness, devotion, and availability to us as was perfectly demonstrated on the cross. But do we shrink back from unconditionally responding to His call and His requests of us? It's a call for devotion. An availability. A willingness to sacrifice for the other.
Will God send me into unfamiliar territory for a reason? Perhaps. But know this. He calls on all of us to serve Him in hope and trust in His promises. We need to but look up, see the throne of God, and encounter Him. It’s then, and only then, that we can look inward and see ourselves and the ministry to which God has called us.
The message of the cross is foolishness to those that are perishing. It’s a harsh truth that many don’t want to hear. May we never shirk our responsibility to answer His call.
Welcome the adversity that the long battle represents. For it’s in difficult times that greatness can emerge. Because He is on our side. Let us boldly and without hesitation shout from the rooftops. For therein lies the true proof of men.
Here I am!