Can God Find Us in the Midst of a Pandemic?
I have been troubled by a nagging fear about how I am spending these COVID-19 days of quarantine. I wonder if I have figured out what I should be doing? I struggle with how I should be responding. Most distressing, I am searching for what God wants from me?
My friend Greg Leith at Convene introduced me to a rather remarkable word study of the simple phrase, “Here I am.” A search through scripture shows how this phrase was the response given by many of the great heroes of the faith in response to God’s calling. Take a moment and read over these examples.
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Genesis 22:1
Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Genesis 22:11
And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied. “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there.” Genesis 46:2-3
So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:3-5
A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:8-10
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!” Isaiah 6:8
Remarkable, isn’t it? Further study shows that God’s call and these responses came in the midst of crisis. Abraham responds just seconds before sacrificing Isaac. Jacob was living in fear that he would die before seeing Joseph. Moses was standing at the burning bush, Samuel was awakened in the night and Isaiah was terrified through a vision of standing in the presence of God.
None of these men were looking for a call. None were prepared for the call or what it would require of them. They were each flawed, confused and uncertain. But what they had in common is they all responded, they each made themselves available. “Here I am.” That’s all God asked, all He required.
There is another story where His children offer a different response.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9
Fear and shame caused the first couple to hide from God. He went looking for them. He called to them. But instead “Here I am,” He heard excuses, blame and fear.
So, as we navigate these strange and troubling days, what does God require of us? How should we be responding? What should we be doing?
I believe we best steward these days with a simple response, “Here I am.” That’s all God asks of us; to be available, to offer ourselves, to wait and be ready, to watch and listen.
Are you ready to hear God’s response? Do you anticipate hearing His voice? Then be ready. Be sober and vigilant. He will respond. He will call. He will send. To those whose hearts are open to Him, to those whose eyes search for Him and whose ears listen intently for His voice, He says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:19-20)
Stop right now, lift your hands and look up to heaven and say, “Here I am, Lord. Here I am.”