"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."
When I was a young teenager, the Lord impressed this verse upon my heart. I knew that there was much work to be done for Christ, and it seemed right and reasonable to volunteer to serve God in whatever way that He saw fit. Over the years I have noticed that the phrase "Here am I" was said by many people in the Word of God and in many different circumstances. Oftentimes the beautiful song "Here am I, Lord, send me" is reserved for the annual missions conference, but in reality, that should be our year-round and life-long prayer. Here are 5 times to say, "Here am I".
1. When God calls you to reach a person.
Saul, the infamous persecutor of Christians, had been converted. The problem was, his name struck such terror into Christians that no one believed him and no one wanted to reach out to him. Then God spoke to a man named Ananias and sent him to Saul. In this case, it was not to win him to Christ, but to show him what he needed to do next; nevertheless, the principle still remains true. God sent one man to one man.
"And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul..."
When God sends you to reach a person - just one single person - the correct response is exactly as Ananias said: I am here, Lord. If you ever hear a voice in your head saying "It's just one person", mark it down - that's not God's voice. God puts great value on the individual. In fact, God puts such great value on the individual that in the Bible He routinely sent a person to talk with or minister to just one man. Perhaps you would say, "Well, what's the big deal? If I don't tell them about Christ, somebody else will." But that is not necessarily the case. Think about it. Each one of us has a circle of influence (people who our lives touch in some way) which is different from everybody else's circle of influence. In fact, no two circles of influence are exactly the same. There are people in your life and mine who we are the best and most likely person in the entire world to reach. When God impresses your heart to witness to a certain person, when God sends me on assignment to reach or influence a certain person, may we all say with Ananias, "I am here."
2. When God calls you to reach a people.
This is not the same as the last point. "A person" is one person; "a people" refers to a whole group, usually tied together by one or more commonalities such as race, language, or geographic location. Notice what God said to Isaiah:
"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people..."
God was looking for a person to deliver a message, not to just one person, but to an entire people. I contend to you today that God is still seeking for messengers who would accept the commission to give God's message to an entire people group. Even after nearly 2,000 years of missionary endeavors, there still remains nations, tribes, and people groups who have no one to share God's message of salvation with them. I do believe that God is still calling men to the mission field. But God's call to reach a people is certainly not limited to foreign lands. I thank God that He is calling men to go to cities within the U.S. and make it their life's work to ensure that everyone in that city hears God's message. But I'll take this even a step further and say that God may call a person to reach out to a subculture or a people group within their own city. Perhaps God would call you to reach an ethnic minority in your city (of course, you may have to learn a new language, but that is certainly not an impossible task). Perhaps God would call you to start a new bus route to reach into some impoverished area of your city. Whatever the case may be, when God calls you to reach a people, I hope you will say like Isaiah, "Here am I".
3. When God calls you to lead.
The Children of Israel had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years when God called a man to lead them out of bondage. That man was Moses.
"And...God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I."
Yes, it is true that Moses argued and made excuses for awhile, but ultimately he did what God told him to do. What was his task? He was given the job of leading a group of people who at times did NOT want to go where he was leading. He had to deal with hard-heads, stubborn rebellion, feet-dragging, hissy fits, and non-stop grumbling and complaining. Sound familiar? Sounds like some of the things that some leaders have to deal with today. But regardless of the obstacles, leaders are needed. God has always used people to lead people. Men, if you are married, you are supposed to be a leader. If you have children, you are a leader whether you want to be or not. Teenager, someone needs to step up and be a leader in the youth group. Somebody needs to say the things that are not popular with the crowd and be willing to take a stand for right even when it will come at a cost. That's leadership. When God calls you to lead, I hope you will respond to him like Moses and say, "Here am I".
4. When God calls you to serve.
You have probably heard the story of Hannah. She promised God that if He would give her a son, she would give that son back to Him. She kept her promise, and when Samuel was still a small boy, she placed him under the care of Eli, the priest.
I Samuel 3:2-4
"And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place...and Samuel was laid down to sleep; That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I."
There are a couple of interesting things in this story. First we see that Samuel actually said "here am I" four times in just a few minutes. What a humble spirit this boy had! Always ready, always willing. I also see that in the first several minutes of this story he was confused about who was actually calling him. It's interesting to note that although God was the one calling him, he was saying "here am I" to a human authority figure. A person with a submissive and available heart towards God will ALWAYS have a submissive and available heart to the authority in their life. For instance, if a child says he loves God and wants to serve God but refuses to do the chores his parents have assigned to him, he is lying. How we submit to human authority reveals our heart towards God's authority.
Eventually Samuel got it all sorted out and discovered that it was actually God who was calling him, and do you know what God wanted Samuel to do? Just serve Him! Eventually Samuel became a leader and God's mouthpiece in Israel, but in the early days and years, he was a servant. Several times the Bible says that Samuel ministered unto or served the Lord. And indeed when Samuel finally realized God was calling him, his answer was "Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth". Samuel knew that God's calling for his life was to be a servant. Sadly, in these modern days, many are willing to answer the "call" to sing, teach, or do anything so long as it involves being in front of people. But to serve? Well, that's another story. But servants are always needed in God's work. Will you do the behind-the-scenes work?Will you do the job that no one else wants? Will you do it without thanks or recognition? When God calls you to serve, will you say, "Here am I"?
5. When God calls you to sacrifice.
This one is last, because this one is the hardest. There have been times in my life when I was willing to reach a person, reach a people, lead, and even serve, just as long as it was easy. But sometimes God asks us to make a sacrifice. Abraham was asked to make the ultimate sacrifice. How do you think he replied?
"And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there..."
Without getting into the "why" of this strange command from God, suffice it to say that Abraham was called upon to sacrifice something...someone...that he loved. There are times in all of our lives when God asks us to sacrifice for Him. Sometimes He asks us to give up some possession, some position, or some person. There are really only two responses in such a situation. One either tightens their grip on that which they possess, refusing to release it, or one simple lets go. Abraham's response reveals a heart totally surrendered to the Lord. No doubt he did not understand why God would ask such a thing, and yet his immediate response was one of acquiescence. What is God asking you to give up for him? Is it some time? Or some money? Perhaps it is a relationship that is hindering your walk with God. Sometimes it is a loved one who must be "let go" in death. Whatever it is, you can rest assured that God is debtor to no man. He will always bless a sacrificial heart.
We should also note in this passage what a sacrifice is and what a sacrifice is not. The world applauds when a movie star donates $100,000 to some charitable cause, but considering the fact that that movie star is raking in 20 million every time she makes a movie, that's not exactly a sacrifice. No, a sacrifice is not defined by how much something is worth intrinsically, but by how much it is worth to the person who has offered it. Notice what God said to Abraham, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac." Abraham didn't have 10 sons, he had 1 son. Then God said, "whom thou lovest". There was nothing more precious to Abraham than his son, Isaac, and that is exactly what God asked of him. You see, a true sacrifice is when you give up something that you love very much and you will miss when it is gone. When God calls you to sacrifice, will you join Abraham in saying, "Here am I"?
There is a very important thread that runs through all of these 5 stories. This is so important! Not one of these five men knew what God was asking of them before they said "Here am I". In fact, with the exception of Isaiah, all of them said those 3 submissive words to God after hearing their name only! Wow! I wonder how many of us trust God enough that when we hear him call our name, we can say, "Here am I...whatever you need, you have it...whatever you want, I will do it". Sometimes when we call someone on the phone and ask, "Is this Jim?" the person on the other end of the line will say, "Well, that depends on who this is". I always want to say, "No, you're wrong...this either is Jim or it isn't. It doesn't depend on anything!" But I know what they are saying. They aren't going to tip their hand and reveal their identity until they know what the caller wants. When God calls our name...when God rings our number...may we never try to bluff Him or play games with Him. May we never play hard to get. May we never hold out until we are given the details. Instead may we just say, "Here am I".