Here I am Lord…Send Me

Tina Blackledge

Isaiah 6:8
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.”

Song with Lyrics

As I was growing up, this became one of my favorite hymns to sing in church. Experience, understanding, hardship and struggle brought a deeper meaning to the lyrics and emotions attached. Even though I have sung this song many times during worship over the years it still manages to bring a tear to my eye. Of course, as I matured the meaning of the words held increasing gravity. Accepting that the Lord creates each of us with a very specific role in this creation and that he, himself, took the time to “knit me together in my mother’s womb” began a search for that role.
As a child, I could not wait to grow up and become an adult. I hated being a child and I would never go back to those days even if it were possible. Consequently, I was greatly relieved when I finally reached adulthood even though it came with its own challenges it was a different level of hell and I had a marginal say and choice in the path I should take. My faith walk has not always been steadfast and I confess to struggling deeply with my relationship with God throughout my early adulthood. I always believed God was there but there were times I did not feel that he was there for me or that he even cared. There are so many erroneous messages with cultural and societal norms attached to them that faith has become mechanical and regimented. This has been the case since the early church was formed. There have always been those attached to ceremony, routine, and legalistic interpretation of the Scriptures ignoring that a personal relationship with Christ was and is necessary. Each of us must search for our savior and discover what we were put on this Earth to accomplish.
This sounds as if it would be an easy task if we identify our skill set, passion, and talents then the result should be fairly simple, right? Well, it would be nice if it worked that way but once again, human kind, get in the way. Whether it be that the person gets in their own way by making selfishly poor life choices or the society one grows up in refuses to allow that person a level of human respect and equality of opportunity. The social norms and mores of each society are different as is the value system. Of course, each society puts it’s “brand” out there (it’s ideal of how life should be lived) but has institutionalized division within society. Some societies publicly advertise that there exist “natural” and strict divisions within their society enforced by legal/religious codes. In the United States, we did this with most obvious disgrace when we subjugated African-Americans but that is far from the only example. The longest running lie in America is that of the attainability of the “American Dream”. Now there are many faults in this ideology with the most obvious being its materialistic foundation. However, I do not want this post to turn into a political debate because my intent is to discuss something far more important. Something every single human being hungers for throughout their life. Each of us needs to have a purpose. We all need our individual lives to have meaning in some way.
As we grow, mature, learn, and experience life our assessment of success and fulfillment changes over time. If it doesn’t then we surely have missed our purpose because we were far too busy chasing after self-fulfillment, self-pleasure, buying into what the world was screaming and celebrating as success. One thing is certain; if you are pleasing the world then you are doing something wrong. Regardless of whether you “buy into religion” or not, you make choices every day that either help or harm the world or at least your little corner of it. In the U.S. we have a large societal problem, okay many large societal problems, but one that has become cancerous is the belief of entitlement just because one is born. This problem has become wide-spread being fed by massive inequities, corrupt authority figures, and evil growing deep roots within ALL religions.
The hymn, “Here I am Lord, send me” is the forerunner to what we Christians call the ‘Great Commission’ given by Christ himself to go out and share his love with everyone. The song was based from the Book of Isaiah chapter 6 beginning with verse 8. The summation, although I strongly encourage you to investigate it yourself and not take my word for it, reveals a discussion between God and a man named Isaiah. God is asking Isaiah who he should send to teach others about him and his love. Now, understand this is a parent asking his child a question to which he already knows the answer. This is a famous technique used by many parents to try to help their child discern where the truth or value of the truth really lies. God knew that he would send Isaiah and that Isaiah would eagerly accept this task but he still posed it to Isaiah as a question, for Isaiah still had a choice here. This interaction has created a limitation in some people’s minds as to the fulfillment or importance of the task/calling/career/job/vocation for which God has created them. Most folks read this story and believe that serving God or fulfilling your life’s purpose means that a geographic relocation is necessary. Some fail to realize that his or her purpose may have nothing to do with ‘going out into the world’; instead, it may mean that God will ask you to take a detour on your own life path and it may be a one that is not very desirable. It may be downright terrifying. In fact, most of the time it is interpreted as a punishment from God or a direct result of a specific sin committed. We do not see it as calling. We do not interpret it as a request from God to our hearts to travel a path that is filled with danger, pain, and/or suffering. The situation is exacerbated by those around us who reinforce those negative interpretations. Now, understand, I am not saying that humans do not create their own problems at times and then suffer the consequences because that would be ludicrous. Anytime we make a decision based solely on selfish indulgence then there will consequences for which we and maybe others must pay. There is a natural system of consequences to our decisions whether they are good or bad. Every single choice you make has a fallout to it and again it could be positive or negative. It will have a ripple effect throughout humanity and all of creation. This idea is represented in all cultures in one form or another. In China, Confucius presented this concept as ‘Chain reasoning’ and it is just as applicable today as it was so long ago.
When you, as a Christian, ask the Lord to show you what he needs you to do, what purpose your life is to fulfill because you are eager to get started and make a difference then you must open your heart to any and all possibilities. God may ask us to step off the path we thought we were supposed to take, and in fact, that may have been our primary path but now he is asking us to take a bit of detour that may change our direction while maintaining the destination.
Consider for a moment the possibility that the things we consider to be bad/terrible/life altering events in our lives may indeed lead us to a road that we do not want to traverse. A few examples to consider, a period of financial ruin, serious illness, homelessness, hunger, persecution, a career bombing out, entering a drug/alcohol rehab program clearly illustrate there are paths where we, ourselves, began the journey through our own selfish desires. Other examples may be the direct or indirect result of a selfish decisions made by another that has had a trickle down effect causing you suffering. It is not that God has caused this suffering but he will use what mankind meant to hurt you to bring you where he needs you to be. There may be someone else along that path that may not make it if you do not travel down that path because you might be the only person to offer him/her a glimpse of the hope and love God has to offer them.
You may not have a choice to suffer or not but there are thousands of choices you make along that journey that will define it. Truthfully, it may be the last leg of your journey before you are called home but that fact does not absolve you from your duty. Understand, I am not saying that you have to have a stupid, silly smile on your face as if you have just suddenly lost your wits while enduring hellish suffering or torment but the manner in which you travel the path, the way you communicate your faith, the attitude you present throughout the hardship and suffering are all examples of how you live your faith or fail to live your faith. All of us were created for a purpose and the path we are asked to traverse is not a single road that leads from point A to point B; instead, it is a path filled with detours, off ramps, and on ramps, massive periods of construction and points of massive disaster. If it were to be drawn out it would look like a multilevel super highway structure with thousands of possible entry and exit points but all roads would lead to the same destination. The choices we make along the way will define the journey. Our actions and inactions will have consequences. Our words will either draw people toward the love of Christ or they will push them away. So when you are looking for purpose and meaning to your life, when you ask God to “send you” understand the fact that it may not mean packing a bag and jumping on an airplane. Sometimes it is jumping on a hospital bed to shine for a person who is lost in the dark. To help a person hold on when the last thread to which they are clinging is fraying. Sometimes struggles, hardships, or suffering has nothing to do with you directly (only that it is your body, mind, soul, or heart doing the suffering) only that you had to traverse this path in order to be there for someone who is lost. You will be truly amazed what God can do through us when we get out of his way and accept the journey one step at a time. An added bonus that is a direct result of hardships, suffering, struggles and pain is the massive opportunity to gain a wealth of wisdom, compassion, love, faith and understanding.

“Whom shall I send?” asks the Lord. “Send me Lord.” I answer

A Question…Pt 2

A Question…pt2
Tina Blackledge

Hand in hand they wait.
Hand in hand they pray.
Both work hard to keep
the worry from being revealed.
They are trying to lend each other
strength but this has been a treacherous path
and both are weary.

By now, they were accustomed to every
nuance each presented when their
emotions were at a peak. She nervously glanced
at everything in the office but not really seeing anything. When
fear griped her, she felt the gentle squeeze of his hand.
“Breathe, beloved…just breathe”, he would remind her as she had
the habit of holding her breath when afraid. It always
brought her out of her thoughts and back to him. She gave
him a weak smile.

Throughout, the last two years they had loved, lived, and
actively sought to honor God in all ways. The everyday
trivialities of married life were just that, trivial and held
no lasting importance to them. Astonishing them both,
every day brought them closer causing their love to grow
that much stronger. Their joy overflowed upon all who knew them.

They jumped when the heavy oak door swung open behind them.
This man in a white coat was going change their lives. The cordial greetings
mandated by civility annoyed her greatly in this moment. The man
opened a folder in front of him and then looked up at the couple.

A long pause before he spoke nearly caused her patience to expire but then
he said.
“The results of the tests have revealed a problem…” he said with authority.
Our lovers griped each other’s hands all the tighter.
“I am very sorry to tell you that it will impossible for you to bear a child…”
he stated with finality.
Tears streamed freely and her entire body was trembling fiercely. She
wanted to give her beloved a child. She could not look at him, it
would crush her soul to see disappointment in his eyes.
She knew it wouldn’t be there,
she knew he loved her no matter the obstacle they faced. He
squeezed her hand more firmly then softly called her name until her
eyes met his. As she expected, love and compassion washed her
anew in great torrents.

The doctor had been babbling on and on but she hadn’t heard a word
after hearing that she could not bear children. Yet, her lover was calling
her name saying there was more that the doctor had to tell them. She grabbed several
tissues from the box the doctor offered
“Due to the chronic illness you have been treated for all your life, your
immune system was not able to effectively fight off malignant cells.” he paused
allowing the words to sink in. The couple sat shell-shocked in their chairs.
“I am dreadfully sorry to inform you that the tests reveal you have
stage 4 ovarian cancer that has spread to the adjoining tissues.” he finished.

She sat there saying nothing while listening to her beloved
pose question after question to the doctor, who tried to explain. She knew
the doctor could not give him the answer he or she wanted. It
was the silence in the room that brought her back to them when she felt their
eyes studying her intently.

She cleared her throat, “How long?”
Her husband was looking from her to the doctor and back again.
He had been asking about treatments and cures not being able to cope
with the reality of the situation.

“My best guess, six months to a year
unless it becomes more aggressive”, he stated
flatly using an over practiced empathy. “I am very sorry
for both of you and please, call my office if you need anything. “

She could feel her husband trembling
through the hand she held.
He fell to his knees, embracing her fiercely
as if he would lose her if he dared to let go.
He laid his head upon her breasts and
she enveloped him in her embrace allowing
the sobs to claim their sorrow.


A Question…pt1

A Question…

Trembling over takes him,
he falls upon his knees
gripping her hand gently.

Looking into her eyes.
He gains confidence over his fears
through the love he sees reflected there.

All time has stopped
as if waiting for this one monumental
event, which both know will change everything.

“Dearheart…” he begins with confidence.
“Happiness, joy and love were mere words,
just vague and unattainable ideas before,
God sent you into my life.”

Her tears cascaded freely down her burning
cheeks but she could not tear her gaze from his. She
was his and she knew life could not exist without him.

“My dearest, you loved me when my heart was hardened. I
pinch myself everyday just to make sure this isn’t some
wonderfully surreal dream. I actively pushed love away, for I
knew that I did not deserve it.”, he confessed.

She wanted to scoop him up in her protective arms and
reassure him of her love and her willingness to give
to him all she had and more
but knew she must allow him to speak his heart.

“I am still awestruck…completely befuddled at how you
managed to get past all my walls of protection!” his voice full of
Awe and respect. His look of devotion and love nearly sent a new wave
of tears down her face but she gathered strength from his own.

“Daily, I discover myself through your eyes because that is
the person I want to be. Your lovely smile brightens my day
and the thought of you drives me to distraction. My life will never
be the same after this moment.”, his voice deep with emotion.

“Will you allow me to protect you?
Will you permit me to share your pain?
Will you give me the supreme honor of
lending you the strength you need?
Will you accept that I will need to lean on
your love and strength at times?
Will you allow only my love to pleasure you,
forsaking all others while there is breath in my body?
Will you be willing to meet me in
paradise when the moment comes?
And finally, will you consent to
giving me the right to call you my… wife?”

Her emotions overwhelmed her now
and she joined her lover upon her knees.
Their eyes never left one another. His emotions were
standing at the cusp of pure joy and utter despair as he
awaited her response.

“Do you not know, my sweet darling man…?
Do you not yet understand…?
Every breath I take is you. You
are the reason I open my eyes, you
are happiness, you are love, you are my life.
I would be honored to call you… husband.” she
whispered to him, for her voice was weak with emotions.

He gently cupped her face drawing her to him
until they were inches from one another. His eyes fixed upon
her lips but looking back to her he asked, “May I…?”
She smiled so broadly that her eyes shone their delight.
“Yes please, my dearheart.” she permitted.

He slowly brushed his lips to hers then infused the kiss
with all the mixed up emotions
this night had wrung from him.
She returned his
love with all due vigor and in it the promise was made.