“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.'” (Isaiah 6:8)
Many times my selfishness wishes my ears were mute to the Lord’s whisper of “whom shall I send”. I have been searching for God my entire life and yet have never completely found him. I feel his presence, but he is not intimate. For many years I’ve wondered why he’s kept me in a middle ground with him. It almost feels better to be without God, than to have him near, but not intimate. It is like trying to be just “friends” with someone you are in love with. It causes more pain than anything.
When you live without God you can get away with turning your eyes from him and doing your own will. When you live in the middle ground, you get no comfort from sin and you’re convicted of it; at the same time, you have no one to run to in times of need. I’ve prayed for him to draw near, but found no relief. Why would God hide himself from me when I was reaching out to him? But over the past year I’ve realized that he wasn’t hiding from me, I was hiding from him. I wanted to go to God and have an intimate relationship with him without losing myself. I wanted all the benefits of his love, but I didn’t want to give him my love.
So I changed. I desperately sought out God and was willing to turn my life over to him. In the past year, I have seen drastic spiritual growth, but there is still something that is missing. I feel like I am now inside the city gates, maybe even inside his palace, but not yet intimate with him. I couldn’t understand it. I do the right things, have turned over the areas of my life I know needed changing, and spend time in the Word and prayer everyday.
But the other day I was thinking a lot about service and all the people in the world who are in desperate need. Out of the blue those dreaded words from Isaiah hit me like a ton of bricks: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Except my answer wasn’t nearly as noble as Isaiah’s. It was more like trying to hide, pretend that I didn’t hear them, or even answer “anyone but me”. I realized in that moment that I hadn’t turned everything over. There was still one area of my heart that I was guarding, and it was the reason I was still left wandering around the city and not in the throne room.
I’ve always wanted God, but I admittedly have a narcissistic personality. Not necessarily selfish, just an obsession with self. If someone asks for help I have no problem sacrificing to do so. But sometimes dwelling on myself blinds me from areas where I could be helping people who are not directly asking for it. From an early age, I knew my connection/desire to seek God was not normal. I remember really enjoying seeking God as a child and wanting to please him until I started reading stories about the lives of saints. God was always doing drastic things in their lives and having them do things they didn’t necessarily want to do. And that scared me to death.
I didn’t want someone to have complete control over me. I didn’t mind serving as long as it was on my terms, but what if God came to me and asked me to do the things that he had of the saints I’d read about? Well, from there on out I was determined to keep my distance from God. I didn’t want to turn completely away from him, but I didn’t want to be close enough to hear him either. If I stayed just outside his radar, maybe then I could get away with pleading ignorance. My greatest fear was that I was going to have a conviction to enter into Christian ministry (missionary, pastor, priest, monk, etc.) because that would mean my whole life would be centered around God. For selfish reasons, I never wanted my job to be focused on talking about God, primarily because I’m deathly afraid of public speaking.
But the other night when I heard the call, it dawned on me that I was still keeping that secret from God. It wasn’t as if I was now unwilling, but I had a grip so strong on that piece of me, that only by God appearing before me and demanding that I answer him would I say, “Here I am! Send me.” And it definitely would not have included the exclamation mark.
For all I know, God has no plans to use me in ministry. But then again, maybe he does. It doesn’t matter his plan, the point is my fear was trying to dictate the direction of my life. I thought that turning over 99% of my life over to God was good enough, but it isn’t. It takes surrendering 100% of your life to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. Jesus does not tell us to pretty much die to self, but to die all the way. Anything that you keep hidden or off-limits to God puts a wall in your relationship. No secret is too dirty or wicked for God to deal with, but you have to present it to him. I think we have the tendency to pretend things will just go away if we don’t deal with them. In order to experience the intimacy of God, he has to experience your intimacy; it is not a one way street.
What question are you dreading God asking you or are covering your ears in response to? What desires and wants are you clutching onto while still seeking an intimate relationship with God? May we all have the courage to stop running around with our fingers stuck in our ears and boldly answer, “Here I am! Send me.”