Thursday, November 15, 2007

Here Am I

I wonder exactly what emotions went through Isaiah's head as he said, "Here am I. Send me" (Is. 6:8). Awe and humility, certainly; after all, he had seen a vision of God's glory that made clear his own insignificance and sinfulness. Gratitude, likely; God had told him that, unworthy as he was, his sin was atoned for (vs. 5-7). Fear, even reluctance, perhaps? He knew a big and probably dangerous job lay ahead of him in prophesying to a sinful nation; and it could have done little to boost his confidence when God warned him that his work would accomplish little in the immediate sense (vs. 9-13). And who knows what plans and dreams of his own Isaiah had to put aside to follow God's leading?

All of us face similar mixed feelings when God shows us His mission for our lives. We are honored, even thrilled, that the Maker of the Universe wants to use such insignificant people as ourselves to do His work. But we are also tempted to panic and run away, as we realize what full submission will mean. Do we really want to surrender all rights to plan our own lives? What if God asks us to give up our hopes of wealth, our favorite earthly blessings, the support of those we love? What if He wants us to give all our possessions to charity, to become missionaries in alien cultures, to suffer imprisonment or martyrdom? Total commitment is never an easy thing.

Some 25 centuries after Isaiah, Fanny Crosby used his words in the chorus to one of her gospel hymns (click here for one sample of the lyrics). I have done the same in this poem, which attempts to capture the emotions involved in the struggle for full surrender.

"Lord, here am I"--let me answer Your call,
Willing and ready to give You my all,
Ready to give You possessions and time,
Set to surrender all things I called mine.

"Lord, here am I"--although trembling with fear,
Longing, yet dreading, to have You draw near,
Weak and still tempted by things of this life:
Show what needs cutting, and bring forth the knife.

"Lord, here am I"--take control of my will,
Lift up my vision, and help me be still;
Speak, for Your servant is longing to hear:
Open my eyes, Lord, and sharpen my ear.

"Lord, here am I"--tear all else from my grasp,
All that would bind me, and all I would clasp,
All that might hinder devotion to You,
All that would keep me from what I must do.

"Lord, here am I"--let me yield to Your way;
Take me, and send me, and use me, I pray:
Use even one as unworthy as I,
Willing to suffer, and even to die.

"Lord, here am I"--guide me all of my days,
Working in all things to win You the praise;
Keep me from pride, till I stand in Your light
In that last morning when faith turns to sight.

No comments: