“HERE AM I. SEND ME!”
PART 1: “HERE I AM WHOLLY AVAILABLE”
“GOD IS NOT LOOKING FOR OUR ABILITY BUT FOR OUR AVAILABILITY” (CHRIS BOWATER)
Here I am, in the midst of a third national Lockdown due to the continuing Coronavirus pandemic.
Here I am, in a land that is suffering loss of life, economic catastrophe, mental instability and chronic fear.
Here I am, in a land that is crying out for answers, crying out for hope, crying out for meaning, crying out for a relationship with God – even though it does not realise it.
Here I am, in a land where I am being told to lift up our eyes and see that the fields are white to harvest.
Here I am – with the call and challenge of God on our lives now. And what is this call and challenge?…
GOD CALLS OUT TO ME FROM ISAIAH CHAPTER 6
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’
And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’
9 He said, ‘Go and tell this people…
NOW IS THE TIME: “HERE I AM WHOLLY AVAILABLE”
In 1981 Chris Bowater wrote the now-famous chorus “Here I am (wholly available)” which reflected the call on his life by God when he was a student in London and playing Jazz gigs at nightclubs, far from a life being lived for God. He knew that he was at a crossroads in his walk with God. He either walked his own way or heeded God’s calling on his life to be wholly available. Christian worship is in a better place because he chose wisely. He says today that the challenge on his life came directly from Isaiah 6 – that this challenge is for me too – and that there are 6 areas that God highlights in this passage that NOW IS THE TIME to make our choice (I list them here with my own “spin” on them)…
- The REALITY of the time:
“The year that king Uzziah died” – a man who had stepped outside the will of God and who died a leper.
Uzziah, also known as Azariah, was the tenth king of the ancient Kingdom of Judah, and one of Amaziah’s sons. Uzziah was 16 when he became king of Judah and reigned for 52 years. The first 24 years of his reign were as co-regent with his father, Amaziah.
In the earlier part of his reign, under the influence of a prophet named Zechariah, he was faithful to God, and “did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord ” (2 Kings 15:3; 2 Chronicles 26:4–5). But then in his pride he performed actions that the “Divine Restraint” of God the Judge did not permit him to do (2 Chronicles 26:18) and he was struck down with leprosy and had to live in a separate house for the next 11 years till he died.
This is the reality of the time in which we live. Our society, once so Christian in its law and outlook, has rebelled against God and gone its own way. It has done things that it should not have done! It is now a sick society – morally, spiritually, and (very pointedly in this time of pandemic) physically.
- The REVELATION of God:
It is now that Isaiah “saw the Lord” – and what a revelation of God he had! He saw His power, he saw His praise, he saw His glory, he saw His majesty. Three times the Seraphim angels called Him “holy” – three times – the number of God and of completion – a God who was completely holy. The Almighty God, the creator of all the glories of the earth and the universe. The God whose presence shakes the earth. The God before we all fall down with fear.
We need a fresh revelation of God. A fresh revelation not just of His love but of His power. When we see God, when we REALLY see God for who He is, then we are ready to listen to Him, then we are ready to bow before Him and lay down all our own petty hopes and wishes and desires. If we want to truly be available for Him, then we need a revelation of Him anew. When we have the revelation of God we are closer to being available for Him.
- A time of RECOGNITION:
Now Isaiah, experiencing God’s power and holiness, cried out “woe to me!…I am ruined!” Seeing God, he saw clearly his own sinfulness, his own imperfection.
When we have a revelation of God, we will become acutely aware of our own failings and sin, and we will come to a place of repentance – a place of turning – away from how we are living to how He wants us to live. When we recognise our true state before God, we are closer to being available for Him.
- A time of RECEIVING:
When Isaiah realised his own sinfulness before God, God had an answer for Him – forgiveness and cleansing – “one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’” Here the coal (the fire) is symbolic of the Holy Spirit who “touches” us and fills us with forgiveness and new life.
What a wonderful God we have – Almighty and yet loving. The God who is just waiting for us to ask Him to help us and forgive us and cleanse us. When we come before Him, repentant and broken, He asks us to simply receive the forgiveness that He gives to us. And the symbolism of the coal touching the mouth is significant. For from the mouth comes all the sin that resides inside us (Luke 6:45). And God wants our purified mouths to be used in service for Him. When we receive the forgiveness of God, we are closer to being available for Him.
- A time of REQUEST:
Seeing the reality of the land he was living in, having a fresh revelation of the glory of God, recognising his own sinful state, having the joy of receiving God’s forgiveness, Isaiah is now finally ready to hear the request of God for someone to do His work for Him on earth – in a land that is dying: “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” There was no demand, no pressure, simply a request.
So it is for us. Are we now ready to hear the voice of the Lord calling for help to go into His “harvest field”? Are we listening to the voice of the Lord? Are we waiting for Him and on Him to hear His voice? Or are we too busy in our own lives to hear? When we are willing and ready to hear the request of God then we are closer to being available for Him.
- A time of RESPONSE:
Now Isaiah is prepared and so ready to respond. And what a response!
“Here am I. Send me!”
Now is the time for our response. Today, tomorrow and every day. The fields ARE white for Harvest. Our nation is groaning during this time of pandemic. God is crying out to His people to become workers. He is crying out to the old and to the young.
He is crying out: “Who is available? Who will go?”
THE CHALLENGE TO ME
Let my answer to the call no longer be “Here am I. Send him!”
Let my answer to the call now be “Here am I. Send me!”
Let neither my ability nor my lack of ability hold me back. For God is looking for availability. As we have often been reminded “God does not call the equipped, he equips the called”. And we are being called.
And let me spend the next week, till we meet again, asking myself “What does He want me to say? Where does He want me to go? Who does He want me to talk to?”