March 22, 2012

Here I am — send me

When God asks me to do something beyond my experience or capacity, history offers some examples that I could follow. The first one is Moses, the one who led Israel out of bondage in Egypt. God encountered him at a burning bush and gave the assignment.
But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” (Exodus 4:10–13)
Moses made the excuse that he was not leader material because he was not good at expressing himself. How often I’ve felt that impromptu speaking would be the death of me. if I can write out what I want to say, then revise and edit it, then I can feel quasi-comfortable with words. I understand Moses’ excuse.

But God would not listen. He knew all about this man’s weaknesses. After all, He made his mouth, just as He is in charge of who is mute or deaf, seeing or blind. God knows about my abilities and inabilities. He does not ask me to do anything beyond the resources He supplies — the fullness of Jesus Christ who lives in me. 

The second example is Gideon, another Old Testament leader. The Midian army threatened the nation and God sent an angel to speak to Gideon. He started out with, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.”

Gideon was shocked. He responded, “Please, sir. If the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us . . . ?” 

I can relate to that. I once thought that the presence of the Lord meant I’d have no trouble and trials, no threats or any other negative thing. If bad things happened, I wondered where God had gone. However, He has taught me that His presence is with me through the good and the bad, and because He is with me, I can depend on His strength to help me do what He asks me to do. Gideon must have known this too because he eventually obeyed, but in the beginning he focused on his weaknesses.
And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” (Judges 6:14–15)
I can relate to this too. The problem seems much greater than my resources. However, Gideon’s excuse was no match for the offer from God. He said, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”

The resulting battle amazes me, never mind those who experienced it. God reduced the army Gideon raised from 32,000 men to 300. He then used an ingenious strategy to defeat 135,000 or more enemy warriors. There was no doubt this was done in the strength of the Lord. Gideon’s strength, or lack of it, was never an issue.

The next example is the prophet Isaiah. He was in the place of worship and deeply aware of the sinful state of His people. As he worshiped, God met with him.
And I (Isaiah) 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 I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:5–8)
As I read this example of God presenting a need to one of His people and Isaiah’s response, I’m struck by the difference between what happened here and what happened with Moses, and even Gideon who also focused on his weaknesses. Isaiah was aware of his shortcomings too, but instead of using them as excuses, he confessed them. When he did that, God took away his guilt and sin. As a forgiven, guilt-free person, he was empowered to say, “Here I am! Send me.”

Today I’m feeling overwhelmed by a need. Because it is someone near and dear, I cannot share it without permission, but I can say that it involves deliverance of someone deeply bound in the clutches of false teaching and the darkness of denial and pride. I’m not even certain what God wants from me except to be available. I stammer that I don’t know what to say, and think I’m about the weakest of the weak, yet something inside me rises up with the confidence that comes from knowing I am God’s child. I am forgiven and free. I also know this: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). So because of Jesus, and because this is not about me, I can say here am I, send me.

Lord, these are fearful days and fearful battles. Yet You are sovereign and know all about this challenge and this battle against the forces of slavery and darkness. May I not make excuses, but even if I do, override them as You did with Moses and Gideon. Give me the heart of Isaiah who had the good sense to keep short accounts with You. Work in me so that no matter what You ask, I remain willing to do whatever You ask of me.

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