Nov 30, 2016 Devotional: From “There I Was” to “Here I Am”

This week’s devotional may have more typos and misspellings than usual.  Many of you know that I’m currently in El Salvador on a mission trip with our church in Charlotte. Internet access is very spotty and mostly only available from our hotel.  Oh, the first world problems we face in a third world community!

Our efforts this week have focused on building the foundation for a new habitat home in the small village of Getsamani, located on the western side of the country. It’s very rural. No power tools and since this is the “foundation” week, the work consists of lots of digging with hand tools in what’s mostly hard clay soil. Every time we think we’ve dug deep enough, the masons serving as supervisors on the job site convey the difficult news of “one more meter deeper”.  So we dig a little more, sweat and ache a little longer, and hope the next measurement will be to the correct standard.

In the evenings, our team has fellowship over a good hot meal back at our hotel. After the meal, we settle in for a time of reflection and devotion. This week’s focus has been on the book of Isaiah, often called the fifth gospel. The main character, Isaiah, is an “establishment guy”, to say the least. He follows the rules and lives a very good life, much like all of us on this trip from Charlotte.  Isaiah has a very rude awakening when the temple shakes one day and he hears the voice of our Creator. Isaiah fears that he is doomed and cries out that he is a sinful man.

God responds and asks, “Whom shall I send as a messenger to this people?  Who shall go for us?”

Talk about putting someone on the spot!  I wonder if Isaiah looks to his left and then to his right and realizes that God was asking a retorical question since it seems like Isaiah  was the only one in the room

Isaiah responds, “Here I am.  Send me.”  Good answer, Isaiah.

This week, I’ve been reminded time and time again of God’s message to us. We are all called in some way or another.  And here’s the other news flash: It’s never just a one time “ask”.  Do you really want to be the person who’s done the one good deed only to be left standing by when all the other opportunities come up?  How would your life be different if you stopped at that first opportunity?  Instead of saying “here I am”, you’ll only be repeating “there I was”.

A great example of this is in a wonderful article I read by former NBA basketball player, David Robinson. The title of the article is called “Letter to My Younger Self“. In the article, Robinson talks about all that might have happened had he quit after failing the freshman swim test at the Naval Academy. David didn’t quit and while he went on the be an Academy graduate, served 5 years as a Naval officer, played a hall of fame career in the NBA, he mentions the “good” that he was able to pursue because he knew there was a bigger plan.  In closing the article (“spoiler alert”), Robinson says in the letter to his 18-year old self:

“And when you get that signing bonus, don’t start thinking about all the things you can do with $1 million. Instead, think about all the things your grandfather did with $100.

When all else fails, trust God.”

My prayer today is that we continue to say “Here I am”.