Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”
When God told Isaiah that He needed to get a message to the people, Isaiah did not say “Let me put together a search committee and find someone for you.” He said, “Send me.” When God told Moses “I want you to go to Egypt and lead the people out to freedom,” Moses initially responded with reluctance. He said, in essence, “I don’t think I’m the guy you want.” But God persisted and Moses eventually agreed and went and got it done.
We read about Harriet Tubman and we read about a person who also said, “Send me.” She was a doer, first and foremost. After escaping the brutal oppression of her enslavement, she made her way north to freedom. As part of the abolitionist movement, she developed her own method of bringing about an end to the enslavement of people. Her method was this: she went and got them out herself. Over and over, she went back south, rescuing people and personally leading them to freedom. In 1863 she went even further and, with a Union military contingent, helped lead a raid on the South Carolina coast that freed around 750 enslaved people.
Her method was direct and uncomplicated. Her trips south were physically demanding and extremely risky. She was working against a system that mandated that, if caught, she would have been killed or at the very least returned to enslavement. She went anyway, knowing that the only way that some would escape would be for her to personally lead them out.
How did she find the strength to do it? She found and claimed her gifts and allowed God to empower her to use them. Her gifts were mental and physical toughness, an ability to outwit her pursuers, and an inability to rest until others achieved the same freedom that she had gained.
And she trusted God to lead her. She said, ““Twant me, 'twas the Lord. I always told him, 'I trust to you. I don't know where to go or what to do, but I expect you to lead me,' and He always did.”
About her expeditions, she said this: “If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there's shouting after you, keep going. Don't ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”
As for you and me, we live different lives. We may not find ourselves on the front lines of the battle against the great moral injustices of today. And we may not possess the fierce bravery of Harriet Tubman or the impulsive commitment of Isaiah. We are perhaps more like Moses, given to say, “I don’t think I’m the right person to take this on.” Often, we do not claim our own gifts and let God lead us to put them to use in the world.
Scripture reminds us that the will of God is not always clear. Sometimes we don’t know it and we “see through a glass darkly.” But often we do know the will of God for us, and we have a clear sense of how we can allow God to empower us to claim and use our gifts. We know what we are being called to do.
The Rev. James Howell, Pastor of Myers Park UMC in Charlotte, deals with this topic in his book The Will of God, Answering the Hard Questions. He says that when it comes to knowing the will of God, we should take a short-term approach: Don’t think too far ahead. Seek God’s will for today and the ability to answer.
Dr. Benjamin Mays said it this way: “It isn't more light we need, it isn't more truth, and it isn't more scientific data. It is more Christ, more courage, more spiritual insight to act on the light we have.”
When we understand the will of God, and we are called to act, may we overcome our reluctance. May we overcome our temptation to wait, or to look for someone else. May we be empowered to say, “Send me.”
A hymn that speaks to us is “Here I am, Lord.” The lyrics say:
I, the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry All who dwell in dark and sin My hand will save.
Whom shall I send?
Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord? I have heard you calling in the night I will go Lord, if You lead me; I will hold your people in my heart.
Seek God’s will for today. Find and claim your gifts and allow God to empower you to become a doer. Thanks be to God. Amen.