The send me that comes from a surrendered heart is all-consuming. It is birthed through worship and cleansing by God’s holy fire, preparing us to listen, to hear, and to obey, no matter what.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)
This is still the cry of God, and even more so in a world where even the church turns away to false teaching and deception. All around us, anti-God philosophies masquerade as ‘free choice’ or ‘anti-discriminatory,’ deceiving even the elect as prophesied in the Bible. Yet crime, abuse, and moral depravity spiral beyond anything the world has previously seen. The things of God are ridiculed, blasphemed, and twisted to gratify both man and the Devil. Yet God still asks: ‘Whom shall I send?’ just as He asked of Jesus at the very foundation of the world. While it is true that every believer is ‘sent’ to witness to Christ and preach the Gospel, He always raises up His ‘sent ones’ in times of great darkness and apostasy. Sadly, many don’t hear or won’t respond. Some who do have the wrong motives, and others underestimate what ‘send me’ actually entails.
Send me requires the preparation of intimacy.
It’s significant that the prophet Isaiah was neither called nor sent without preparation. This entailed a series of prophecies given to him as part of his training in hearing the voice of God. It’s a very logical and practical precaution, as much for our protection as it is to safeguard others. We cannot honestly speak what God tells us unless we hear Him, and this first has to be learned. To hear God speak we must first, be willing, and second, be surrendered in worship and intimacy. He speaks usually in the still, small voice, one we must learn to recognise beyond the bustle and hubbub of life and self. Simply saying send me is not sufficient. If we go it must be with God. Without the preparation of intimacy, we will simply never hear or hear incorrectly. Through worship, He opens our ears and spirits to hear.
The other importance of this intimacy is the assurance we will need that we are in His will. It can be a lonely road and we’ll encounter trials, resistance, persecution, and even spiritual attack. Unless we have absolute faith that God has honoured and anointed our send me response, we will be both vulnerable and ineffectual. Our loving God never desires that those He sends are hurt along the way. It wasn’t His desire that Isaiah was sawed in half or Stephen stoned or Peter crucified upside down. But worship and true intimacy with God enabled all these men – and countless other men and women of God – to take up the mantle of their calling in certainty and absolute faith, no matter where the road led them. They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had asked and they had answered.
Human expectations and send me.
This is often a point of contention that hinders our heartfelt send me. Too often, we have an expectation of how and where He will send us. We look to the things we’re comfortable with or which we do well, and formulate our own plans and ideas as to the outworking of the call. All around us, we see ‘successful’ ministries, massive churches, and dramatic ‘moves of God’ that somehow condition our thinking. We make mistaken assumptions that if God is control, it’ll all be smooth sailing, open doors, and abundant fruit. Comfortable Christianity lulls us into a false sense of ‘milk and honey’ without the bees and cows to milk. The notion of being ‘the voice of God’ is appealing, and we lose sight of the harsh reality that this is a voice that very few in the world truly want to hear.
When we say send me, it has to be with our eyes open. We must, as Jesus reminded us, count the cost. To grasp the reality of this, we need only to look to Jesus – despised, rejected, humiliated, beaten, tortured, falsely accused, and wrongfully executed. He teaches that the real joy of being sent lies in doing the will of God, not in the fruits of the work. We’re called to labour, not leisure. This isn’t to say that there aren’t blessings along the way. Our heavenly Father is faithful and gracious to those who love and serve Him. But the blessings may not be what we expect, and will certainly never conform to the conventional logic of this world. We can be assured that they will transcend the things of this world, but our human expectations will always disappoint us if that’s what we look to.
Send me can only come after cleanse me.
We learn this critical truth from Isaiah, who confronted his own sinfulness and unrighteousness before he was able to fully respond with send me. We easily forget, basking in God’s love, grace, and mercy, that He is holy. That means His Word is holy too. He entrusts His Word into vessels made holy by His own holiness. We simply cannot do it ourselves. More than that, we cannot ever be fully aware of the true measure of our unholiness unless we come face to face with the holiness of God – His refining fire. Isaiah’s preparation culminated in a vision of heavenly worship around the throne of God. His time of worship brought Him into the holy presence of God, and His response was one of abject repentance. He saw his sin and unworthiness as God sees it, and cried out for the cleansing only God can give.
If we truly desire to be able to say send me with all our hearts, we must be prepared for the refining fire of God. We must be willing to push through in worship to the place of absolute honesty where we see both God and ourselves as we truly are. This truth doesn’t negate the truth of the cross. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus who walk in repentance and humility. But we remain human, and if we hold back and put off until tomorrow those things we should face and deal with today. Pushing through in worship and intimacy brings us to the throne of grace. The heart which truly hungers after the things of God will, sooner or later, find itself in the Refiner’s fire where God’s holiness will touch places so deep we never even knew they existed.
Send me is the place of all or nothing.
The response of send me is not one to be given lightly. It’s an all or nothing commitment, a willingness to go the distance no matter what. Little wonder, then, that God takes time to prepare us and cleanse us. He draws us deeper, little by little, building intimacy and faith and trust. He speaks to our spirits and turns our hearts, stirring up a hunger and thirst that directs us ever closer to Him. We will never hear Him from afar. If we think we have, we’re deceived. It is not God’s nature to set His people up for deception and defeat. The more we love Him, the more we will seek Him. As our relationship deepens and our knowledge of His nature increases, so we will hear Him more often and more clearly. Our response is not sufficient for faith. It is His call that is our foundation.
When we hunger and thirst to immerse ourselves in His Word or simply be still in His presence, that is when He prepares our hearts. We must take hold of the truth that when we say send me, it’s a commitment to go the distance. It’s not something for today or when we feel like it. Jesus is our role model. We may not be called to literally lay down our lives in martyrdom and death. But it’s a daily laying down of self, our desires, our preferences, and our dreams. It may cost us family who reject us or friends who abandon us. We may lose our jobs or our homes. Our lives may be threatened, and our possessions removed. The world and the devil will never take our message kindly. But for those who do not turn aside, eternity holds treasures beyond measure.
Send me is worship.
The reality is that once we have seen the holiness of God, we will never be the same again. We cannot help but be transformed and cleansed by the supernatural power of the Refiner’s fire. Those things we hold onto are burned away like dross. We yield ourselves in worship because it is the only response left to us. This is the nature of send me. It can never be a natural response. Only the holiness and glory of the I AM can strip away the things of the world so that hearts cry out to serve with the joy of pure, unrestrained worship. Our talents and abilities will never see us through. If we desire to serve, if we long to say send me, we must begin in worship, to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.
Lord, draw us into a more intimate relationship with You, a place of deeper worship where we hear You speak and listen for You to speak. Help us to be willing to be both hear and do in a time where faith and faithfulness will become more difficult. Grant us the strength to answer Your call. But also, Lord, grant us the grace to pray continuously for others. Prepare our hearts in that place of worship, so we may love with all we are and all we have.