[Matthew was a member of the SMI team for 10 years before departing to pursue his passion for fitness. His first book, The Body Tithe Devotional, is designed to encourage Christians through a 90-day fitness or health journey. I asked him if he would return to SMI occasionally, adapting one of the devotions from his book to the lifelong financial journey SMI members are on. - AP]
At not quite three, my son Silas is old enough to play games around the house. However, he’s not old enough to fully understand the premise.
Playing tag, for instance, can result in him running toward me rather than away. Soccer frequently involves more hands than feet. Just try playing the generational favorite, hide-and-seek. One of the children counts to ten. A tucked-away Silas hears the “Ready or not, here I come.” Instantly, a distant “Here I am” can be heard coming from Mommy and Daddy’s closet. Good try, buddy, but you’re it . . . again.
Silas would have fit right in with many of our favorite men from the Old Testament. “Here I am” was a frequent response from many of the greats. In fact, it was the perfect response, though it seems a little unusual on the surface.
For instance, the testing of Abraham in Genesis begins with God saying Abraham’s name and Abraham replying, “Here I am.” Later on in the same chapter, before the knife drops, we read:
“But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied.”— Genesis 22: 11 (NIV)
Two different times, in Genesis 31 and in Genesis 46, God calls to Jacob in a dream. Both times, Jacob answers, “Here I am.”
When God called out to Moses from within the famous burning bush, Moses said, “Here I am.”
Samuel used this phrase four times. The first three times God called, Samuel mistakenly responded to Eli instead, with, “Here I am.” Finally, the morning after God had shared the vision with Samuel, he got it right. Eli called for him. Samuel came to him, saying yet again “Here I am.” The fourth time is a charm.
There’s a lot we can learn from these men and their default answers. Now, at first glance, “Here I am” might seem like a strange thing to say. This wasn’t Silas playing hide-and-seek. It wasn’t as if God didn’t know where they were. “Here I am” was really a way of acknowledging their availability, not their geographical location. “Here I am” could be read, “I’m here, fully available for you.”
Secondly, in order for them to respond, they needed to be listening in the first place. Like Silas in the closet, ears open, eager to engage, these men were open to hearing from God. Not at a specific time, but at all times. Due to Eli’s prompting, when God called for Samuel for the fourth time, Samuel responded, “Your servant is listening.”
Lastly, whenever we see God’s people obediently behaving in similar ways, we can take that as a cue. We can learn from them and apply it in our own lives.
What if we applied the “Here I am” mindset to our finances? Maybe you are already doing that . . . you’re reading Sound Mind Investing, after all. Even still, you may not be ready yet to make the sacrifices needed to go "all in" on stewardship: budgeting and getting out of debt, or cutting back on lifestyle spending so you can build your emergency savings, or learning the investing basics so you can build wealth for your family and the Kingdom.
Other areas of your life might be easier to turn over to God— your job, family, or free time perhaps— but finances, not so much. In that area, you’re semi-available.
The Holy Spirit is at work trying to cultivate a complete surrender of every part of you. If you’re pulling a Moses, trying to avoid it at all costs, it’s time to relent. It’s time to reply, “Here I am.”
Remember, every time the Lord spoke to His people and they responded with “Here I am,” one of three things happened: they were blessed, they were used by God, and/ or they were blessed by being used by God.
What if being attentive and available in every area of our lives could result in being used by God? “Here I am” is suddenly not such a strange response at all. In fact, it’s the perfect response. Because you know what?
Ready or not, here He comes.
Daily Spiritual Exercise: God honors availability, including our availability with our finances. So meditate on an attribute of God that will help you remain available— maybe His consistency, steadfastness, provision, or comfort. Whichever attribute helps you stay open to His leading, meditate on it and pray it over your life.
The Body Tithe Devotional can be purchased at Amazon.