8 Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
Dear God, when I read this in church this morning, my first thought was, “I’m not sure if I’m that brave. I don’t know if I want to be used by God to that extent.” Then I read the Gospel reading from Luke 5 when Jesus calls Peter. Again, I thought, “Better him that me.”
This is my confession to you. I want to love you. I want to serve you–to a point. I want to worship you. I want to sacrifice for your–to a point. I want to embrace your forgiveness and grace. I want to work for you–to a point. See the pattern here? I’m good with the love stuff. Forgiveness. Worship. That’s all good and well. But when it comes to serving, sacrificing and working, my first inclination is to still steer into my own comfort zone.
I’ve often joked that Noah had the worst situation of the Bible. I’d just as soon have died in the flood as go through the 100 years of building an ark, taking care of all of the animals, and then building back society. I’ve also said that if there is a nuclear bomb coming or a zombie apocalypse, I want to go in the first wave. I don’t want to be a survivor. I’ve seen the movies and it doesn’t look like the survivors are having a good time at all. When I examine myself, I suppose I’m unbelievably lazy.
As I sat in church and contemplated these things, I started to wonder how much my age has to do with my natural tendency to lethargy–well, maybe not lethargy. Safety and security might be better words. Twenty years ago, I was in my early 30s and willing to take more chances. Now, in my early 50s, I think I’m starting to feel the combination of less energy and a sense that I have less margin for error. The older I get, the more the chances I take will impact the rest of my life. Am I really ready to give all that I am for all that you are?
In the Bible in a year podcast from this morning, they read Psalm 73. It seems like a good psalm to pray to you now as my own prayer: It’s remarkably appropriate (I am bolding the beginning and end to emphasize how I am feeling):
1 Truly God is good to Israel,
to those whose hearts are pure.
2 But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
3 For I envied the proud
when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
4 They seem to live such painless lives;
their bodies are so healthy and strong.
5 They don’t have troubles like other people;
they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.
6 They wear pride like a jeweled necklace
and clothe themselves with cruelty.
7 These fat cats have everything
their hearts could ever wish for!
8 They scoff and speak only evil;
in their pride they seek to crush others.
9 They boast against the very heavens,
and their words strut throughout the earth.
10 And so the people are dismayed and confused,
drinking in all their words.
11 “What does God know?” they ask.
“Does the Most High even know what’s happening?”
12 Look at these wicked people—
enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.
13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?
Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?
14 I get nothing but trouble all day long;
every morning brings me pain.
15 If I had really spoken this way to others,
I would have been a traitor to your people.
16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
But what a difficult task it is!
17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path
and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
19 In an instant they are destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors.
20 When you arise, O Lord,
you will laugh at their silly ideas
as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.
21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 Yet I still belong to you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.
27 Those who desert him will perish,
for you destroy those who abandon you.
28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
In Jesus’s name I pray,