In this year of great intensity, challenge and struggle, I’ve been drawn to simple things and quiet spaces. I long for peace, calm and rest.
If I can carve out a few minutes to focus on Jesus, sit in his presence and soak up his word, the things and cares of this world really do fade away.
Yet, the moment I jump back into my day, the battle is on to keep that focus, remember his presence and stand on the promises that I so recently read.
Every lesson I’ve been learning this year boils down to our theme for this week: the phrase, “Here I am.” This year has renewed a hunger for simple things, heightened the desire to experience the calming presence of Jesus, and brought a new fervor to stand on the promises of God’s Word in ways that impact my life and those around me.
To simply pray, “Here I am…”
These are words that speak of obedience. They display trust. They paint a picture of submission and acceptance.
For me in this season, saying those three short words has become a prayer, a hope, a cry, a place of rest.
It’s a simple phrase yet I’m learning that it’s also packed with meaning and purpose.
When we quietly whisper, “Here I am,” we are praying exactly the right words.
This prayer uniquely positions us to receive from God, obey his word, trust his promises, hope in the future, and move forward regardless of what is happening around us.
Scripture is full of examples for this prayer. But something in I Samuel 3 caught my eye and challenged my heart.
In this chapter of scripture, we see young Samuel. During the night, he heard his name being called. In response, he ran to Eli, saying, “Here I am!”
Eli told Samuel, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.”
Samuel heard his name again. And again.
After the third call, Eli told Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’”
This time, when Samuel heard his name, he said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”
The Lord responded, “Behold, I am about to do a thing…”
After listening to what the Lord had to say, Samuel slept. The next morning, he carefully told Eli about his late-night experience. It was a difficult word for Samuel to hear and Eli to accept.
A few verses later, the Bible says, “And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.”
Ok, you might want to get your Bible out or open your Bible app to read the story for yourself. Imagine this story coming to life before you. What is God saying as you slowly go through the words?
For me, this story helped me see more to the prayer, “Here I am.”
This prayer is a process not an ending or a stopping point.
The process starts as Samuel heard God’s call for the first time. Samuel was awake and listening. He was waiting. His ears were open and, after each time the voice spoke, Samuel desperately wanted to respond to the call.
I can picture a young boy quickly yelling into the night, “Here I am!”
This was his response before he even knew who was calling, before he knew what the call meant. The call woke him up and caused him to seek counsel. Samuel wasn’t sure what was happening but he wanted to listen and understand.
At this point in the process, Samuel followed Eli’s instructions to respond differently.
When Samuel heard his name the fourth time, he told the Lord to speak rather than just saying, “Here I am.”
Honestly, that’s a scary place to be in the process.
Prayers that say, “Here I am,” can be vastly different than prayers that ask God to speak.
It can be very easy to say that we’re here, we’re in.
The difficulty comes in asking God to speak to us, revealing his plan, his call, his task, or his way.
After hearing what God said, Samuel had to respond and likewise, we must respond. We have to choose yes or no, go or stay, believe or walk away.
Hearing God’s voice requires an answer, an action. So often, it’s easier not to ask. If we don’t know what God is asking of us or inviting us to do, we don’t have to choose obedience or answer the call.
In I Samuel 3, God responded to Samuel, saying, “Behold, I am about to do a thing…”
What God was about to do wasn’t good news for Eli or his family. I’m sure it wasn’t the first words that Samuel expected to hear from God.
But God was inviting Samuel to play a part in the greater story for Israel. He was giving Samuel knowledge that would establish him as a prophet of the Lord.
We see the same process play out when we read this phrase in Isaiah 6. In verse 8, Isaiah said, “Here I am! Send me.” In the very next verse, God told Isaiah, “Go.”
When God speaks, he is inviting you into his story. He’s about to do something in you, in your family, in your work, in your country, in your life. He is looking for those who are listening, those who are saying, “Here I am.”
His eyes are seeking those who are willing to hear what He’s saying and participate in the greater story.
If you follow both Samuel and Isaiah through their books of the Bible, you’ll see growth as they are used by God in powerful ways.
Imagine if they’d both just continued saying, “Here I am.”
Imagine if they didn’t let God speak.
Imagine if they chose not to obey or move forward with God.
Imagine if they didn’t participate in the story.
As we go into the final months of 2020, a year that has been incredibly challenging and intense… it might be that whispering the prayer, “Here I am” is enough.
Your “Here I am,” is where you are in the process. That’s a precious place to be for as long as you need to rest there.
It could also be that as we finish this year and move into new seasons, you’re ready to say, “Speak, for your servant hears.”
Like me, you could be feeling the challenge to take the next step in the greater story. You could be sensing an opportunity to hear God’s voice and respond in new ways.
You might be at the scary, yet wonderful and amazing, part of the process where you ask God to speak.
Are you in position to hear what God is ready to speak to you?
Are you sensing that He’s inviting you into the story and yet you aren’t sure if you’re ready to answer?
What in the process of “Here I am,” is encouraging you this week?