“Here am I, send me.”
These are quite possibly the five most dangerous words you can say. When God is looking to and fro about the earth asking, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” (Isaiah 6:8), He isn’t messing around and there is only one answer worth giving.
Courage to Meet Danger
Where there is danger we need courage to carry us out to meet it. Courage is a valiant word; it stands strong come what may. We admire it in others as though it is a special gift from God to some of His people and not to others. Courage isn’t a special gift; it is a reflection of trust in God. Steadfast trust in God breeds courageous action in us. “Be strong and courageous,” says the Lord to Joshua as he was strapping on his sword for battle in the land of giants. Why should he be strong and courageous? Because the Lord promised him success as he did what He told him to do. His courage flowed from his assurance of God’s character and His promises; it was not sourced from his own preparedness.
What Courage Looks Like
You may say Joshua’s battle at Jericho was a special time and place and we cannot expect to maintain his level of courage. No? Then turn your attention to Esther who risked her life for her countrymen who were slated for death, or Moses whom God called to speak before Pharaoh though he claimed he had no gift of speech. We see that Abraham followed the call of God out of Ur though he knew not where he was going, and Jael surprises us by putting a tent peg through the Canaanite Sisera’s head to the glory of God. The fishermen in Galilee showed their courage as they dropped their nets immediately upon the call of Jesus to “Follow Me” and left everything they had behind. Should I keep going, or are you tracking with me now? These stories show us the enormity of courageous action which can flow from complete trust in God.
Though the particulars of our stories may not mirror the lives of these saints, our faith should bear the same courage. Thousands of years separate us from the faithful action of these men and women, yet nothing separates us from the faithful God who was, and is, and is to come. He is still worthy of the kind of trust which is marked by bold quickness of action to do His will.
My own story is marked less by quick action than it is by hesitant stumbling. It was three years ago now that my heart was awakened to the plight of the unborn in our midst. I don’t mean that I had never heard of abortion before then, just that it hadn’t sunk in that I might need to do something about it. It was never my problem. It was merely an evil thing out there that didn’t have anything to do with me; a shame, of course, but a distant one. Besides, what could I possibly do?
I admit I was a little slow on the uptake. I realized that instead of assuming there was nothing I could do, I should start praying for the Lord to open an opportunity for me to help in some way. I couldn’t imagine what I could do that would be worthwhile. I didn’t think that I was gifted to counsel abortion-bound women. You need to be a good speaker, or counselor, or have similar life experience to share, or be really outgoing to do that kind of ministry. Or so I thought.
Here Am I, Send Me
I was none of those things, and was paralyzed by fear that I would be called to do something I was unprepared to do. I knew that my Lord had told me to love my neighbor as myself and my neighbors were being murdered in an innocuous looking clinic in my very own town. In the midst of my trepidation I began to ask the Lord to give me opportunity to help in some way, and if He didn’t mind, could He prepare me for the job as well?
“Here am I, send me” I said haltingly, and so He did. First I used my graphic design skills to help the local crisis pregnancy center. That’s not so scary. I could do that from my own desk and I was confident I had the necessary skills.
A few months later it got very real. I discovered that a group of my friends were going to start going weekly to do sidewalk counseling at the local abortion clinic. Terrifying! How could I possibly be involved with that? I am an introvert to my core. How could I try to share the gospel on a street corner with people who were predisposed to hate me? I would, after all, be standing out there telling them they should not do the very thing they had come there to do. In spite of my many fears, I found that I need not dawdle around considering whether to act. I had already said, “Here am I, send me” and was only awaiting an opportunity.
What it Takes to Be a Hero
It is natural to think that heroic people are born fearless, that they are a different breed than the rest of us. I wish I could tell you that I discovered that I am perfectly suited to this ministry, that my fears were ridiculous and unfounded, that those hours on the sidewalk have become an anticipated and rewarding part of my week. If I did, I would be lying. Most Wednesdays my stomach still feels a bit sick. Though it has been two years, I still struggle to find my voice. I often worry that I have said, am saying, or will say the wrong things. My heart still pounds each time a car pulls into that parking lot and I know that mine may be the last voice they hear before they enter that building to kill their child.
I am not good at this, but I am called. I am called to love my neighbor and to hold back those who are stumbling toward the slaughter, and so I go (Mark 12:31; Proverbs 24:11). I will take a guess that more than one fearful conversation was had in the Israelite camp before they gathered themselves together and marched around Jericho. Marching in circles blowing their trumpets must have seemed like a fruitless, if not foolish, exercise to those who were called to do it. Still, they affirmed amongst themselves that they would be strong and courageous doing the word of the Lord (Joshua 1:17–18). Let us do the same. Heroic people are not the ones born fearless, they are the ones who, facing fear, put their trust in God and do the things that seem impossibly big, impossibly hard, and more than a little bit crazy.
Have you ever done something that was right even though it scared you? Share your story in the comments below.