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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Why Am I?


Opening my eyes
greeted by my pups
yapping good morning.

I have to move,
I must get out of bed
and I think, ‘Why again,
did I want dogs?’ but then
their exuberant kisses,
happy eyes and wagging tails
quickly remind me.

I muster my strength
and pull myself to the edge
of the bed, simultaneously
praying for the ability
and offering praise for
each and every inch.

My pups cheer me on
until I am upright
wobbling my way
to the bathroom.

Putting on my robe
releases another round
of barking, but now in urgency.
I move as quickly as
my body will permit.

By the time I hobble my
way to the living room,
start the routine and
hook them to their
leashes they are
dancing in circles.

I grasp the leashes tightly,
grimace at the pain,
then open the door.
They bound outside
to find their favorite
spots then scout out
the yard for nightly
critter activity.

I descend the five steps
that lead to my home
stiff-legged holding
firmly to the leashes.
Walking to my favorite
spot, a lawn chair
providing a picturesque view
between several large,
beautiful trees. Wispy
white clouds are
streaked across the
blue expanse.

I praise God for this gift
and begin thinking. First,
I think of the tasks
that need accomplished,
the tasks that I would
like to accomplish,
and then the ones that will
actually get accomplished.

I dismiss the aches and pains,
and the spasms in my back,
while inspecting the ulcerations
upon my skin.

Now I have time to ponder,
“Why am I?”

The Fragile Strength of Hope


       Looking forward in your life, making plans for the future, or working and sacrificing to realize a dream takes a great deal of

courage. Why, because one has to hope and that is a terribly fragile concept. Hope causes us to take a step into the unknown holding

tightly to the desire for a good outcome. We are willing to face whatever pain lies ahead as long as our hopes can be realized in the

future. This, hope, can have enduring longevity due to its stubborn trans-generational characteristic. Hope is said to keep the “idea”

alive. What that idea is matters little except to the person or persons possessing it or offering it as a “truth”. Some put their hope in

their own abilities, intelligence, or talents certain they can secure their future thru hard work and diligence. While many others put their

hopes in another human being, which is a very dangerous endeavor because there are no knights in shining armor waiting to rescue

you and you shouldn’t expect there to be. Humans are increasingly and perfectly fallible; therefore, to put one’s hope in a person is to

set oneself up for disappointment and pain. That does not negate the need to hope and pray the person can work with you to achieve

a common goal. Yet the key to success is your active and vigorous participation in finding or creating the solution to your problem.

         Hope is a word thrown around in casual conversation by people from all walks of life. It may be uttered by a person hoping to get

the new upgraded phone gadget or another wondering if they should dare hope that they can find food for their children today. The

devout of any religion put their hope in a higher being, God, which provides something they hunger for with profound desperation. We

must find purpose and meaning for our lives and for our role on Earth. The stockbroker hopes his or her market predictions will

become reality so they can evolve into an invaluable commodity to all who have money to dabble or invest heavily. Millions of teens

hope they will get to meet, date, or even marry the current pop idol of the decade while others hope they are making the right decision

to give their child up for adoption or abort him or her.

       I  dreamed of “making it”, using the world’s definition, one day hoping that my hard work and perseverance would bring my hopes

to fruition but I am almost back to where I started when it comes to my socioeconomic standing. Unfortunately, I have felt the

reverberation of too many doors being slammed in my face. In fact, every good thing I have ever attempted in my life has soured.

Leaving behind an acrid taste of failure coupled with an overwhelming degree of injustices. Life is difficult for everyone in many

different ways even if it appears otherwise. We all carry scars that we have accumulated along the way and the baggage we drag

around with us filters our view of life and our relationships with others. Some have an abundance of resources to ride over, plow

through, or avoid most obstacles in their path but they must all be traversed in some manner at one time or another. These folks with

worldly wealth and/or fame will feel profound emptiness at some point because material gain means very little when your soul is empty

and all you have become is a commodity.

      We have choices and the one that is by far the most difficult is the one requiring the traveler to continue to hope. Nothing less than

a Herculean effort is needed to get back up and try again after the hundredth, thousandth, or even the millionth time of being knocked

off the path by hardships, sickness, or heartaches. We have a choice to get up each time we land in a ditch or we can passively allow

their foot falls to crush us. Oh, I know how incredibly appealing it is to permit that to happen and be done with the pain but I guarantee

you that no one’s purpose is to be trod upon by another. Alternatively, we can claw our way back up and try navigating over the next

chasm or climb the next mountain. If we choose, we can sit upon the precipice of that chasm or at the base of that next mountain and

weep in despair. I’ve done both many times and I am certain I will do so again. There does exist a time to mourn, to suffer the loss of a

dream, a person, our health even and that is okay as long as we do not stay stuck there in that misery. I’ve even contemplated

throwing myself into the gaping chasm of despair allowing the pain and heartache to consume my being so as not to feel again.

      Pain is a certainty. Everyone will have it and whether it is emotional, spiritual, physical, or psychological holds no relevance

whatsoever. You see, the playing field is leveled when it comes to this factor because no one can escape it regardless of wealth of

spirit, character, or resources. Some of us choose to bury ourselves in whatever numbing agent we fancy while others make it their life

mission to make the world pay for their pain. The only decision that really matters during these moments in life is what you do with it

and how you allow it to shape you, your present and your future. It is so attractive to let your heart harden and begin blocking

everyone and everything out when you are enduring the pain. We either dash the fragile strands of hope unto the rocks or we nurture

it by refusing to let go of it. Hope can be terribly fragile and yet we set it up against impossible odds expecting it to withstand the

onslaught of mankind’s cruelty, disdain and apathy. The biggest mistake we make in those moments is to hope for a positive change

but then do little or nothing to help facilitate it. Hope is not a passive idea. Indeed, hope must be fed in order for it to grow strong and

infectious. In a creation that is full of imperfect people, including yours truly, it is guaranteed we are going to make little and big

mistakes causing ourselves and others to stumble and fall. Yes, hope is a fragile strength when we do not feed it but make that move,

take that step, reach out to help another up out of despair and you will be amazed at how quickly hope will become impenetrable. Hope

is not a concept meant for trivialities, no, hope is meant to become your armor against the onslaughts that will come. The moment you

stop accepting the world’s definition of success, is the beginning of your understanding of the hidden strength of hope. Although, my

life has not turned out how I hoped it would I am exactly where I am meant to be and my hope today is to make a difference in

someone’s life so they can make a positive difference in another’s life and so on. Hope may be fragile but it holds innate power waiting

for fertile ground. Examine your life then define your hopes and dreams making certain that they are inclusive of others because your

goal may not be the one you are meant to reach; instead, put your energies into reaching the one you were always meant to have.

You will likely be surprised by the goal you eventually reach because it will have morphed into something more than you could have

imagined. However, you must be malleable, you must be open, and you must have the strength to accept that you will be knocked off

your path, repeatedly, but you have the resolve to get up every time and find another way. Hope is always there even if you have only

slender threads of it holding you together. There have been times in which I have felt myself grasping in desperation to the frayed

edges of hope but I never let go even though every atom in my body and mind told me it was folly to hold unto it but I did and now it

and my faith has grown stronger and deeper. Each time you choose not to stay down your armor of hope gets stronger. Make the

choice; get up because your purpose here has not yet been fulfilled.

 

Tina Blackledge