Some of you may know the hymn “Here I am, Lord”. It has always been one of my favourite hymns, based on the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8). I look up to the prophets; I usually pray that I will be willing to be used by God as they were, but there are many days where I find myself crying for God to take the ‘burden’ of my dreams away, as the prophets also did at times (I’m not saying the dreams are a burden but trying to transform them into reality can be tiring!).
Yesterday I found myself reflecting on 1 Kings 19. Elijah had just showed Ba’al to be a false god and then sends the people to kill the 450 prophets of Ba’al (take a look at 1 Kings 18; it’s a pretty good read!). In chapter 19, however, Elijah finds himself once again running for his life. He threw himself down and prayed for death, feeling unable to continue.
Have you ever had moments like that? Where you feel it would be easier simply to cease to be?
But God doesn’t grant Elijah’s request. Instead, an angel awakens him with a touch and tells him to eat and drink – because there’s another loooong journey ahead of him! In fact, the angel says that the journey ahead is too long for him and so he must arise and eat! Not the words you want to hear when you’re sick of running and all you want to do is lie down and sleep.
But do you want to know what happens next – well, after Elijah has travelled for forty days and forty nights? God comes to him. First, “great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper” (1 Kings 19:11-12). God came to Elijah in a whisper. That gives me confidence to keep going in the tiring days when I’m using all of my strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other!
And then God tells Elijah several upcoming events, one among them being that he is to anoint Elisha as a prophet to take his place. As much as I sometimes want to give up and lead a normal life, putting aside the dreams and visions God has laid upon my heart to accomplish, these words sobered me. I don’t want to hand my ministry over to another. It’s the ministry that God has given to me and, unlike Elijah, my time had not yet come to an end. Unlike Paul, as he wrote in 2 Timothy 4, I have not yet finished running the race that God has set for me and it is my race to run, (although it’s nice to have people running beside me, too, as I’m sure you agree).
Each of us has a purpose, a task that God has set for us. He has known each of us whilst we were still in our mothers’ wombs. Not all of us will declare with Isaiah: “I will go, Lord”; we all have a choice. But when we do, it is worth it. God is always worth the cost, the burden to our heart, and the days where it’s an effort to motivate ourselves. Paul was able to declare at the end of his life: “I I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 2:7-8) and I want to be able to say that, too.
Since coming back to Australia a few weeks ago, there have been many incidences when I’ve felt overwhelmed by what is before me in this season. I have big dreams of promoting Redefined Ministries International, getting people on board with the work we are trying to do in the DRC, and building an Australian team; I also have plans for writing; and still more for other projects. But they are all in God’s hands.
I’m learning that I have to once again say to God “Here I am”. I will do what He calls me to; I will pursue His purposes. But I will also remember to make time to find that quiet spot in a cave so that I can hear His gentle whisper and be refreshed in His presence. Because without time with Him, all that I do is meaningless and unfulfilling. However, with time in His presence, there is no burden too great before us and we find satisfaction and purpose in His plans.
So I say again: Here I am, Lord. Use me as you will in this season and remind me to take time out each day to rest in your presence and listen to your gentle whispering.