I’m a sucker for learning something new.
A couple of weeks ago I was at the INCM Children’s Pastor Conference in Orlando, Florida and one of the General Session speakers brought an amazing message to us—actually ALL of the speakers were amazing—but this one in particular grabbed space and rooted itself in the soil of my heart.
There are two words in Hebrew for answering when your name is called. PO’ANI is literally, “I’m here.” It is used for communicating or announcing your physical presence—think of a classroom roll call. Andrews? (Po’ani) Davidson? (Po’ani) Smith? (Po’ani). You get the picture.
And then there’s HINENI (הנני). Which is translated in our English Bibles as “Here I Am”. However, there is a deeper meaning that isn’t captured by the simplicity of the translation. It means “Lord, whatever you are about to ask of me, I’m already in agreement of it.” It is used in this context only 8 times in the Old Testament. Abraham (x3), Jacob (x2), Moses, Samuel, and Isaiah.
WHOA! That’s completely different than just answering a roll call! There is so much that could be unpacked just off this tiny little word but I’ll save the exhausting amount of details that I could share for future posts.
Each time the persons respond with HINENI, they have yet to be given the details of their assignment—they’re simply responding to God’s call. Immediately after Abraham responds, God says, “I want you to take your son Isaac and sacrifice him.” When Moses responds, God tells him “Go tell Pharoah to let my people go.” When Samuel responds, God tells him, “Tell Eli (the priest who had been raising Samuel up in the temple) that he has dishonored Me by not disciplining his sons and so I’m going to remove him from his position.”
If He hasn’t already, one day you can be certain that God is going to call out to you–He’ll have something that only you can accomplish, that He has specifically chosen YOU for because if you will HINENI it will bring glory to Him in ways like never before. Can you imagine what might have transpired had Abraham said “Po’Ani!”? God’s plan was never for Isaac to be sacrificed by his father’s hand. But if Abraham had played it safe, if he had doubted in God’s goodness, if he had worried that God would ask too much of him, he wouldn’t have learned (and we wouldn’t have testimony) that God is Jehovah Jireh (The LORD is my Provider).
Life. Altering. Obedience. This is what is on the docket when we respond to God’s call with HINENI. No doubt it is big, crazy and scary sounding to be in agreement with God before you even fully know what He is about to ask. What would it look like for you to respond with HINENI the next time God calls out to you? What would change? How might you be transformed? How might God be glorified? What might He accomplish through you when you seek to be obedient first and fully-understand later?