It was the curled, homemade sign that first caught my attention as we entered the panic-inducing stuffiness of the bedroom. Hung discreetly among several other commercial and homemade posters, the childish coloring blended in with its companions on the wall. As I laid my suitcase on the dark teakwood floors and looked around the room, my attention kept coming back to the sign. Noticing the rolled pad up against the dirty brown curtains and a pile of sheets, I wearily, with beads of sweat slowly journeying down my face and neck, made up my “bed” on the floor.
Finally, sinking my exhausted body down on top of the musty-smelling sheets, I looked up. There was the sign, the sign I had purposely been avoiding since entering the room.
HAISM = “Here Am I, Send Me”
I looked away, and began to cry. Sleep mercifully rescued me from drowning.
Several hours later, my eyes opened. The air conditioner had finally taken control of the air in the room and I shivered in the forced cold. Shifting from my aching shoulder, pressed into the rock-hard “bed”, I once again noticed the small poster – HAISM – “Here am I, send me”. I laid, eyes heavy from tears and deep sleep, staring, willing my mind to move on. But, my wicked mind had its own intentions, forcing me to think. Okay, here I am Lord, my mind raced ahead almost bitterly. Here I am Lord in downtown Bangkok, feeling sticky and immensely weary and lonely to the deepest part of my heart. Here I am, Lord. Here I am. The silent, cracked, yellow ceiling hung in silence.
What does Isaiah’s passage “Here am I, send me”, mean to you? In chapter 6, Isaiah says the Lord spoke to him asking, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah’s response is, “Here am I, send me.” Seems simple enough – a courageous response, a fitting response after standing in the presence of the Lord Almighty. But, would you or I be willing to say this? Have you said this? What has it meant to you, to say those five little, yet life-exploding, words? Did you actually mean you? “Here am I, _________, Lord, send me”? I know I had never said them with ME in mind, not really. Was I willing to say the words with me in mind?
In Philippians 3, Paul speaks of counting the cost. He knows better than any of us the high price of following Christ and evangelizing the nations. Yet, daily, he affirmed his decision to follow Jesus and to take Him at His word. Philippians 3:8 says, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ.”
- Paul didn’t have a comfortable home or any permanency outside Jesus Christ.
- He traveled, with all the inconveniences involved.
- He had currency problems, language barriers, and even angry governments making him the enemy.
Yet, Paul’s call was as clear as ours is today: Go and make disciples of all the nations. What does that mean? Was I really open to the “go” part in that statement? I was getting pretty good at the “making disciples” here at home and was supportive, both emotionally and financially, of those who somehow read something active into the word, “Go”. Being advised to “keep the door open to global work” became a challenge. Of course the door to global work was open; shutting a door like that was as much as saying “no” to God – an unhealthy option! Of course there wasn’t a “no” area in my life.
Lying on the wooden floor in the heat of Bangkok, I suddenly felt my “no” area. In my heart, I had always been saying, “Here are they, send them.” Lying on the wooden floor in the heat, I cried before the Lord, begging Him to not send me, to let me be the sender, to take any action out of the word, “go”. I cried and the Lord reached down and wrapped His arms around me, reminding me of His closeness in ways I had never needed to feel at home. Stripped of my earthly securities, I could now experientially understand a part of God I had only known as an abstract fact. Over the next months of inconvenient living, pollution, boredom, loneliness, and learning, I was to see God meeting the new needs I had and letting me see He could care for me without American territory or lifestyle.
I don’t know where God will use me next. God may open doors again for me to go to another culture, with all its hardship and loneliness, to tell others about the God who loved them enough to die for them. I know today, I can “go.” How is your HAISM?
This article is a classic originally published in our early print magazines.