Even here, God can be found. – Lizzy Milani
Total Availability – The Here I Am Series – Part 1
This week, I’m going to level with you.
Jesse and I have been through some difficult times over the past few years. Uncertainty, pain, heartache, loss… it’s been challenging. But at the same time, it’s been beautiful. And as much as we have deconstructed, we have reconstructed, too. We have huge plans and hopes and ideas for ourselves, our two gorgeous kids, our incredible Pocket Fuel community and beyond. For the first time in years, I feel emotionally and spiritually excited and ready to go for ‘it,' whatever ‘it’ may be.
But while navigating this new place and freedom we’ve found ourselves in, I can’t throw myself fully into it, because just as I was rising out of the ashes, my health took a blow. On the one hand, I’m excited and hopeful and full of life. On the other, I’m exhausted and frustrated and almost ready to give up.
That’s when I decided to do what I’ve wanted to do since my parents told me I couldn’t:
I got my first tattoo.
On the inside of my left arm just below my elbow, in a handwritten cursive style, are the words:
here I am.
The ancient Hebrew word for that sentence is Hineni. It’s a beautiful word only used a few times in the Biblical Text, but each and every time, it was during moments of transition, transformation and hardship for those who uttered it.
I grew up being the biggest “pick me, Jesus” girl on the block. Perhaps even my whole town. I was at every service; I read my bible prolifically, I prayed, I started the prayer group at school, gosh, I even told all the kids in the Kindergarten that “Santa wasn’t real and Jesus is!” I was fanatical and enthusiastic and desperate to be picked by God.
“Here I am?” I used to pray, petition, shout, scream. As if I was a kid on the sidelines waiting to be picked for the team. That’s how I used to do Christianity. Here I am Lord, pick me! Because he might not. He might pick someone else.
But that’s not what “here I am” means in its Jewish sense. It’s not “here I am” can you see me? It’s “here I am” in this place, at this time, awake, aware and alive.
It’s got nothing to do with being picked and sent and victorious. We are already those things (whatever they are and whatever they mean). Without question, without even asking for it (series on being ‘Chosen’ coming soon).
“Here I am” is the offer of total availability to what is happening in you and around you. It’s how you answer when God calls.
We wait for the audible voice, the prophet or the preacher, the sage or the leader, the quickening of our spirit or heart, to hear the call of God. But I think he’s always calling us to see and hear, to love and to take responsibility. His whisper, and sometimes shout, can be heard through the different seasons of our lives: sickness, health, success, failure and everything in between; God’s voice is in them all.
Is God causing my (or your) health challenges? I don’t believe so. Not for a second. But I do know the divine is in it with me, calling me each day to be awake to his presence even in the midst of whatever is going on.
So, I got it tattooed on my body: here I am. I am available to face what is going on in my life, with those I love, and in the world around me. No hiding, no running away: I’m here.
Because even here, God can be found.
Written by Lizzy Milani