About 30 years ago I learned a new hymn called “Here I Am, Lord” written by Dan Schutte, SJ, and I loved it from the git go. He actually wrote this hymn about 6 years earlier, but I had never heard it until another pastor introduced me to it at a youth retreat we were leading. That hymn has stuck with me ever since, and I don’t believe I have ever sung it without tears filling my eyes. Good thing I know most of it by heart. I started singing this hymn and never stopped. When I sing it I am committing and recommitting myself to do what God asks of me and to go where God leads me. I knew (intellectually at least) from the beginning that it would not be easy, but I had no idea just how difficult it would really be.
When I discerned God calling me into the ministry it was quite a shock. Part of that shock was that I was far more shocked than many of those around me. At the time I was convinced that I was not at all a good choice to be a minister. I didn’t look like any ministers I had ever seen (and the truth is I had never even heard a woman preach before I was already in seminary). I didn’t sound like other ministers or even like most of the other seminarians. I was weak and full of doubts. I was often crude. I was not particularly pious. In my own opinion I was way too human for the job, but in God’s opinion I was just human enough.
So I took the challenge and plunged into the deep-end immersing myself in theology, church history, and scripture, not to mention learning biblical Hebrew and Greek. I won’t kid you. It wasn’t easy. And yet, it felt right.
Now the truth is that right away there were people who didn’t think I looked or sounded or was qualified for ministry. There have always been folks, both inside and outside the church, who thought I was completely unsuitable and many still do. I myself have tried to wander away more than once, and God keeps pulling me back. There are times God calls me somewhere that looks manageable, but it turns out to be difficult. There are times God calls me somewhere that looks difficult, but things just seem to flow. It’s the former more often than the latter.
Acts 9:10 tells us, “Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Anani′as. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Anani′as.’ And he said,’Here I am, Lord.'”
I have a pretty good idea about how Ananias must have felt when the Lord told him to go and minister to Saul, who had until very recently been an ardent persecutor of the followers of The Way. Still, Ananias answered God, “Here I am, Lord” and went where he was told and did all he could for Saul. There were no guarantees that anything he did for or said to Saul would be successful. But there also would not have been an apostle Paul without someone like Ananias who answered “Here I am, Lord” when God called and then went where God led him.
Sometimes God’s call is relatively easy. Sometimes it is hard. But when God calls, the faithful answer, “Here I am, Lord.”