Here I Am! Send Me!

by Jessica Coblentz

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God… -Marianne Williamson

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Throughout my younger years I responded to questions about my ambitions for the future with career titles like, “doctor,” “teacher,” or “lawyer.” Good careers that would make any parent or teacher proud. But for as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a writer. For many, many years, however, I simply suppressed every urge to admit it aloud.

My silence was not a consequence of uncertainty. On the contrary, the more I hushed my true desire, the more loudly the vocation rang in my heart. And my silence was in no way related to any pressures I felt from my family; they always told me to dream big. I simply could not say the words, “I want to be a writer,” because of the tremendous burden of greatness accompanied even the thought of it. I was keenly aware that book after book had altered my life; writers were these truth-bearers with such immense possibility to connect with others! Writers were this little girl’s heroines, and thus, writing seemed too precious a vocation for me. If I tried to become a writer, how would I possibly emulate the profundity, creativity, and all-around greatness that I attributed to the worthy writers who had touched my life with their work? Writing was too sacred a vocation to claim for myself.

Stunned by a great vision of God’s glory, the Isaiah of this week’s Sunday Readings found himself humbly questioning his own vocation. “Woe is me, I am doomed!” he exclaimed, “For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” In light of God’s greatness, what could he possibly say? How would he ever be suited to bear God’s Word—the Word beyond all words? We know Isaiah did speak, for we would not have the words before us if he had not. “Here I am! Send me!” he eventually proclaimed—but only after an angel touched his lips with an ember from God’s altar.

Similarly, the Gospel reading recalls Simon Peter falling to his knees before Jesus after witnessing a fishing miracle. When net-loads of fish appeared after a lengthy stint when the fishermen had no luck, Peter declared, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” How could an ordinary man like Simon Peter properly serve as a disciple of Christ, the God of the fish and the sea? After Jesus told him, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men,” Peter followed.

Like Isaiah and Peter, I am sure that God calls all of us to great things—very often, things that exceed any sort of greatness that we ever would have expected for ourselves. Teaching. Medicine. Advocacy. Partnership. Academia. Motherhood. Athletics. Manual labor. Ministry. Art. Care-giving. Even, writing. Whatever your particular, divinely-bestowed vocation, these readings remind us that God not only imparts on us a calling, but all the greatness we need to actualize it. Our God spends Angels to bless our lips, and Saviors to lead to the way. And sometimes, we are those Angels and Saviors for others on their vocational journeys.

Now, when people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them, first, “I am a student.” That is the easy answer. Then, usually after taking a momentary pause to gather my courage, I continue, “I also am a theologian. And I am a writer.” After so many years of fear and silence, I am getting better at saying, “Here I am! Send me!”

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/richard-cottonfield/3554104795/

Jessica Coblentz is a student, theologian, and writer. She’s currently studying at Harvard Divinity School. Follow her writing on the Web at www.jessicacoblentz.com.

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One Response

  1. […] I Am! Send Me! Jump to Comments Check out “Here I Am! Send Me!,” my reflection on today’s Sunday liturgy readings at From the Pews in the Back: Young […]

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