Do you remember playing hide and seek. It was always one of those games you could play with no equipment and in almost any place. You could play with just two people if you wanted. One person had to be It and everyone else hid. But you always seemed to have Those kids. You know what I mean. You have that one kid who picks the absolute hardest place to hide, like in the trunk of a moving car, determined no one will find them. And then you have the kid who hides behind a small bush with half their body exposed thinking no one will find them. All these hide and seek memories reminded me of a book called Hide and Seek. I want to read an exerpt.
“Come boys, what shall we do? Let’s play hide and seek,” suggested Fred. “Oh yes! That will be fun for all of us. Who will shut his eyes? Fred, will you shut your eyes?” asked Roy. “Yes, I’ll shut my eyes while you all go and hide,” replied Fred. Then Fred stood by the tree and shut his eyes, and the other boys ran off to hide. Pretty soon Fred shouted, “Boys, are you all hidden? Well, here I go. One, two, three, here I come!” Fred started to look for the hidden boys. He spotted Andrew hiding in a box. “Ha! I found you, Andrew. You are in that box!” shouted Fred.
Obviously, Andrew was one of “those” kids.
In our Scripture this morning, Abraham is called upon by God to accept a very difficult task. In verse one, God simply calls Abraham and Abraham responds, “Here I Am”. He did not try to hide or run when God called. He just turned and said, “Here I Am”. God then goes on to lay out a task so difficult, so un-thinkable, asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son as an offering to God. From what we read, Abraham does not argue with God, try to resist in any way, or even question God’s command. He simply obeys.
Who knows what is going through his mind. If it had been me I would have reminded God that this was the son through whom many descendants were supposed to emerge according to his earlier promise. Kind of hard to accomplish if I do what you are asking. But Abraham, he gathered the materials needed, called on his son to go with him to perform a sacrifice, and set out to the place God had shown him. Issac, his son, asked him where was the ram they were going to sacrifice and Abraham simply replied, God will provide. It soon occurred to Issac that God did indeed provide and he was the provision. But you notice in the text that Issac did not question, did not hide, did not fight his father, but simply obeyed. His words were simply, “Here I am”. And then, after Abraham had tied up Issac and placed him on the altar he had made and was ready to kill him out of obedience to God, the angel of the Lord shouted Abraham’s name and Abraham again responded “Here I Am”, though probably not as calmly as the first time. The angel told Abraham that God honored his obedience and therefore he would not have to sacrifice his son but could instead use the ram that had suddenly appeared in a tangle of bushes nearby. Both Abraham, and certainly Issac, were relieved at this change of direction but you have to honor their response to God’s call… “Here I Am”.
Throughout the Old Testament God calls people like Moses, Jacob, Samuel, David and others and their response is the Hebrew word “hinnay-knee” or “here I am”. Even in the NT, God calls Mary to be the mother of Jesus and her response is, “Here I Am”, what is it you want me to do? And the greatest responder to a difficult task was Jesus himself when he said in the Garden of Gethsemane, facing great suffering and death, and where he could have said, No to God, responded with the words, “not my will but yours be done” or in other words, “Here I am”
‘Here I am’ denotes a physical presence, it says I am here just as I am, nothing false or fake, open to the present situation. “Here I am” is the attitude of the servant, the willing person. Available…reporting for duty… your word is my command…at your service…how may I serve you today?
What is the opposite of “here I am?” Let’s look again in Genesis to the very first call of God in the Garden of Eden where God calls out for Adam and Eve. They have sinned against God by disobeying God and as God calls for them they try to hide from Him. Kind of a Biblical hide-and-seek. There was no “here I am” but instead, there was a “I really hope He can’t find me”. Finally, when they do emerge from their misguided hiding place, they are ashamed for what they have done and have to confess.
Another example of running from God’s call is Jonah, God called Jonah to go to the people of Nineveh and tell them about God and His love so that they might repent and come to know him. But Jonah didn’t think they deserved God’s presence. He was prejudiced against the people of Nineveh so he refused God’s calling and ran from it. For those of you not familiar with the story, Jonah, despite his efforts of evasion, finally gave in to the call and went to Nineveh, though he was still not happy about it. God’s purpose was fulfilled, Nineveh responded positively, and Jonah left mad and disgruntled. Both his initial reaction and his ending response to God’s calling reflected a lack of faith in God and a love for people.
Even Moses tried to weasel out of God’s calling by offering multiple excuses as to why He could not fulfill God’s calling of leading the Israelite people out of slavery.
I wonder how often we play hide-and-seek from God’s calling. How often do we believe we have good reasons which clear us from the responsibility of that calling? How often do we avoid God’s call by offering excuses as to why we are not the one who should be called, but that maybe it’s better for someone else to do so.
In contrast to these examples, of course, is Abraham, who simply responds, “Here I Am”, “How may I serve you” “Speak Lord, your servant is listening”.
Some people believe that only ministers are called, however, each of us has a calling, maybe several of them. You see, each day God calls us to hear his voice and respond appropriately. His call may be one to just listen for direction in response to a problem, it may be one to go to someone who is in need, it may be one to address a larger problem that maybe we cannot resolve but we need to pay attention to and do our small part.
The question is do we respond to that call with a “here I am” or do we respond as Adam and Eve, Jonah, and Moses did when called, by hiding behind our fears, our schedules, our prejudices, our complacency, our selfishness, or our excuses. Oh, we could come up with hundreds of excuses to hide behind and most of us are good at it, but the fact is, when God lays a call upon us, He does so for a reason. Maybe, we are the one with resources, or influence, or the opportunity. Maybe the call is for our benefit and not just the supposed benefactor of our positive action.
Story of the miraculous touchdown pass to Dwight during the reign of doom for the luckless green team of the Siler City little league football. Well, let’s look at that a little more closely. When Dwight yelled, “Here I am”, there were three things important to note.
First of all, Dwight had to be willing to accept the task. He had to be willing to play the game and participate in the task he was given. When God calls us, He only ask that we show up. He doesn’t ask anything other than a willingness to participate.
Second, Dwight had to be where he was supposed to be. When he said, Here I am, he had to be where he needed to be. If he had been behind me or over on the bench, or had let a defender keep him covered, he wouldn’t have been much use. With God, to receive His power and presence we must be in a right relationship with the Lord. We cannot let any obstacles, such as unforgiven sin, or unresolved spiritual issues, prevent us from being where God needs us to be mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.
Finally, Dwight had to be willing to complete the task. If he had caught the pass and then just laid down or had run the wrong way, the whole touchdown would have never happened. He had to be willing to turn and run for the goal. With God, once we have said “Here I am” and we have received the call, then we must be willing to run with it. The way before us might be difficult, it might be scary, it might even be fraught with numerous obstacles, but if it is God’s intention for us to complete the call, whatever that call may be, He will provide a way.
When our response to God is “Here I Am”, we display a confidence and faith in the presence and power of God. Whether we are
Facing a spiritual fight, “Here I Am, bring it on”
Facing a crisis, “Here I Am”
Facing a time of indecision, “Here I Am”
Feeling lost or hopeless, “Here I Am”
Feeling scared out of your wits, “Here I Am”
Or facing a call to serve God or others, “Here I Am”