More than Willing
Gen. 22:11 “Abraham, Abraham (God called)! Here I am, he answered.”
I knew a man who started a Christian ministry for business people, giving financial advice; he called it Hineni. After a while I got round to asking him what Hineni meant and was surprised to find it was a Hebrew expression meaning “Here I am.” My first reaction was “What an unusual name for a ministry!”
When I hear that expression “here I am,” I think first of a person who is calling out to identify his location to someone who is searching for him. I would play hide and seek with my children when they were small, and they would often get tired of hiding. I would call, “Where are you?” and they would shout “Here I am!” to help me find them. My mind jumps to the first game of hide and seek. God is calling “Where are you?” to Adam and Eve in the garden after they sinned and were hiding from Him. When someone is trying to stay hidden, it isn’t smart to call out “Here I am!” Remember, the God who knows everything would hardly be unaware of the person’s location. So, what is going on?
Another time that someone has his name called is when that person is in big trouble especially if the one calling you uses your full name: “Paul Alan Ogle, come here!” I suspect that’s what Adam and Eve were thinking as God called their names. They were hiding out of shame and fear for having disobeyed Him.
Later on I discovered that not only Abraham but also Jacob, Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Ananias . . . the list goes on . . . all had encounters with God where God called their names, and each time they responded “Here I am!” Did God keep losing track of them, or were they hiding from Him out of shame? Were they all in trouble? What is going on with all these hinenis?
When I was in primary school, every child in Britain was given a 1/3 pint of milk each day – it was a government requirement. Each morning the teacher would ask which two students would like to go for our class and fetch our milk quota. If chosen, you got to leave class, collect your coat, then go outside to the gates and load up enough bottles for the number in class that day. If you didn’t rush, you could spin out the whole operation to about twenty minutes without getting in trouble. My hand was always the first in the air. I loved getting chosen. My raised hand was shouting “Here I am, please send me!” – which is exactly how Isaiah responded when God asked, “Who will go for Us?” Isaiah said, “Here I am, send me” (6:8).
God loves a servant heart. He loves it when His servants are quick to volunteer for an assignment. But there is something that God loves even more than a willingness to volunteer.
In Matthew 21: 28-31 Jesus tells a story about “A man who had two sons.” This man had work needing to be done in his vineyard. His first son made excuses that he was too busy to help, but, eventually, he went to the vineyard and did what was needed. The second son was quick to volunteer, but he never got around to doing anything. Jesus asks, “Which son did his Father’s will?” It wasn’t the one who said he was willing to help but the one who actually did something.
Are you quick to volunteer? But, are you more than willing?