… AND GOING (Part 2)

Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” [Isaiah 6:8 (NLT)]

I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry
All who dwell in dark and sin My hand will save.
I, who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.
[Dan Schutte]

elephantLast week, after singing we’d come in the opening hymn, we promised to go in the closing one: I the Lord of Sea and Sky. Originally written for a Roman Catholic ordination mass in 1981, it has found its way into many Protestant hymnals. As I sang the refrain, “Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?” I thought of Samuel and Isaiah, both of whom were called by God and both of whom responded by saying, “Here I am.” I wonder if I would have responded as positively as did they. Like Moses, would I have protested or, like Jeremiah, say my age disqualified me? Would I simply have run away as did Jonah? Although Moses, Jeremiah, and even Jonah eventually answered God’s call, I’m not so sure I would have (although three days in the belly of a fish might have convinced me)!

Being a prophet was a little like being God’s press secretary. Acting as His spokesperson, the prophet conveyed God’s words and message to the people. Unlike a press conference, however, negative news didn’t get a positive spin and there was no quibbling about the meaning of words. Prophets didn’t speak off-the-record, dissemble, beat around the bush, or use alternative facts and half-truths. With no need to be re-elected, God never worried about approval ratings and His prophets spoke only the unadulterated and often unpopular truth.

While a bearer of glad tidings is popular and welcome, indicting people for their sins  or bringing a message of judgment and destruction was no way to win a popularity contest in Judah, Israel, and the surrounding nations. As the frequent bearers of reproach, dire warnings, and sad tidings, prophets often were ignored and persecuted. Nevertheless, Isaiah and the others reported for duty and took on a task that few would want.

God’s prophets answered His call because they trusted and loved Him. They knew He didn’t bring the Israelites to the edge of the Red Sea only to have them drown in the waters or be captured by the Egyptian soldiers nor did He send them through the wilderness only to have them die from starvation or lack of water before arriving in Canaan. God didn’t put Noah and the animals on that Ark without bringing them to dry land, He didn’t have Joshua march around Jericho without giving him victory, and He didn’t send David out to meet Goliath without those five smooth stones for his sling! Confident that God would provide all they needed, those prophets answered His call.

The pastor’s choice of opening and closing hymns had us both coming and going that day. The hymns were a vivid reminder that it’s not enough just to come to Jesus; He also expects us to go out into the world for Him. He calls us to service—to be His messengers and spread His word, light, and love to the world around us. When He calls, do we answer or do we pretend we don’t hear? Do we trust God to provide whatever we need or do we doubt and reject Him? Even though God warned his prophets that most people wouldn’t listen to them, let alone heed their words, they heeded His call by saying, “Here I am. Send me.”  Will we do the same?

We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer]

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. [Acts 1:8 (NLT)]

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