Here I am Lord…Send Me


by
Tina Blackledge
2-28-15

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LoMboxzm0U

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

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The Vessel


Through wonderful conversations with my fellow WP peeps about my “Birthday Musings”, I have come to understand a greater reality about death, love, loss, and new beginnings. In, “Birthday Musings”, I wrote that when we loose a loved one, a void, or hole is left within us that scars the soul and makes it quite difficult to cope. However, I have amended such thoughts after much contemplation to see that the people we encounter in life, especially those who are truly beloved, do not leave us empty at their departure. No, instead, from the very first person who shares their heart with us, be it a parent, family member, friend or a soul mate, their love begins the construction within our beings of a vessel. This vessel is precious indeed, for it is constructed of every kind act, word, or feeling our loved ones have shared with us. These beautiful contributions of love are interwoven forming a strong, impermeable vessel to hold, nurture, and prosper all future love. This vessel is constructed by the most steadfast and unbreakable bonds of love. Christ’s Sacrificial love allows us to retain the lessons of kindness, generosity, forgiveness, compassion, wisdom, and unending unconditional love. The vessel is a living breathing entity that welcomes the love of another to fill it up when one of its carpenters have left the reality we live in on a daily basis. There is no greater treasure that we can own and it was gifted to us, constructed by others but demanding ownership from us.
The very strongest threads are woven when someone enters or leaves our lives. Think of the feeling you get when holding a brand new baby whether it is your own or that of a loved one. Instantly, a new thread of love is woven into the vessel as we meet the next contributor to this life affirming vessel. So too, when a loved one passes beyond our reach, all of the memories, feelings of love and appreciation become tangible creating a multi-layered thread that becomes essential for all others to be woven from, around, in, and through. It truly is a miraculous blessing to have so many contribute to this vessel over our lifetimes. The ones we love and who love us are with us throughout all of eternity because they are literally part of who we are and who we will become; hence, we do not say good-bye to anyone only, “see you later.” They have begun the next leg of their journey and we must celebrate their victory and be happy for them as they enjoy paradise. We take and use everything they have taught and given us to become better human beings and make certain that our actions change the world in a positive direction. We may not be able to change the entire world but we owe it to all those who loved us, who created this precious vessel, to use what they gave so freely and change our little corner of the world.
Each person we encounter is not a mistaken fluke of chance. Even those who choose to do harm instead of good are meant to teach us something, If we can carry the lesson from the depths of the pain. However, those rare and special people who freely choose to love us are the greatest gifts we can ever receive. When love is true and pure and not corrupted by selfish desires then it is the most powerful thing in our arsenal against hate, ignorance, and greed.
On this day of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for each friend and family member who has contributed to the making of the vessel that holds and empowers the love within me. My fellow writers on WordPress.com have opened an entirely new store of resources to fill my vessel to overflowing through their kindness and friendship! I am amazed, awed, and thrilled with the gifts God has given me. Circumstances of life whether it be health, finances, or romance can try to convince us that love is a farce and that friendships are only forged for greed but that is not true. Do these things exist? Certainly they do but you make the choice to use or be used by another. True, some horrible things happen through no fault of our own and some are born with severe challenges that would crush the most stalwart man’s heart and good cheer, yet there is still choice. What do we do in the aftermath of tragedy or with the burden of health problem to which some are born into? What choices do we make after the tears have been spent? Do we become bitter or do we become better? Do we allow others to weave their threads into this glorious vessel or do we allow it grow cold and dark forbidding further access to all and to ourselves?
Allow the love that built you into the person you are today or the person you are striving to become to burn brightly with the love and passion the carpenter’s intended for you. Allow it to pulsate with the power of its contributors! Above all else, make certain Christ is the foreman throughout the construction, for his sacrificial love is the one we must model all others after. Thank you all for helping me recognize the existence of this treasure I have carried all along and for contributing to it all the time. It is never empty, there is no void and the pain we feel at the loss of a loved one is just the thick thread of their life’s love being woven into our vessel. Welcome the pain, for it means they have become part of you forevermore.

What is this blog all about?


Have you ever had the flu, injury, or ailment that you thought would never go away? Have you ever suffered to the degree that you earnestly believed that you would be better off dead?  Just when you thought you could not take it anymore, relief came in the form of medication or with your immune system kicking in and fixing the imbalance. Well, think of that time just before you experienced the hope giving relief and you may understand the life of someone who is disabled and/or in chronic pain. Whether you are that person yourself or you know someone who suffers to this degree then this blog might appeal to you. The purpose of this blog is too offer insights I have learned along the way, share stories of faith and hardship, or just to swap positive coping mechanisms.

I have an abundance of experience, knowledge, and education that will help me offer you a compassionate, if virtual, ear. I will offer whimsical stories as well as serious information that will aid you in a various topics. I have been a high school history teacher, a care-taker for a disabled parent (37years) and a therapist (non-licensed). I am a person of great strength of character and resolve , which has helped me overcome a learning disability (dyslexia), physical disability (rheumatoid arthritis from age 5), a person who suffers with chronic pain, and who is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I have earned a BA in history and an MS in human services with a self-concentrated study in childhood abuse and violent sexual predators.

I love painting landscapes with acrylics. I also love animals, children and writing. I am currently writing three books in different genres and for different audiences; however, that takes time and I wanted a more direct and immediate way to help people. As a result, I thought I might try the blogging venue and attempt to help as many people as I can for as long as I am able. So, if you are experiencing any kind of pain (emotional, spiritual, or physical) or know someone who is  then my fervent prayer is to be able to offer you the possibility of understanding and hope.