Speaking of Life 2031 | I’m Ready, My Lord
“Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker, we kill the flame.
I’m ready, my Lord”
With characteristic enigmatic intensity, Jewish singer Leonard Cohen penned these lyrics to his classic “You Want it Darker.” Just like the lyrics, the music is creeping, murky, and beautiful in its own dark way.
The repeated refrain “hineni, hineni” is an extremely powerful Hebrew word. It means “here I am.” One of the most famous places it appears is right before the story of Abraham almost sacrificing Isaac in Genesis 22:
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Genesis 22:1 (ESV)
Hineni means: “I’m fully here. At your disposal. I’m ready, my Lord.” It’s the same phrase that Moses says to the burning bush, and that Isaiah screams into the strange vision he has of God’s presence: “Here am I, send me!”
Hineni Hineni –– I’m ready, my Lord.
When he was asked about this in an interview, Cohen called the lyric, “That declaration of readiness, no matter what the outcome, that’s a part of everyone’s soul.” It’s the impulse in us that says we are ready, and available, for whatever God would require of us.
Is this our answer to when God calls us out of ourselves and into change, into his transforming story? Or are we in the habit of just showing up? Do we just drop our leftovers in the offering plate and mutter a few words of worship, just “pay and pray”?
Or are we fully there? Are we fully present when God asks us to go to the next adventure with him? Abraham was called to father nations at the mature age of 100; Moses was called out of his comfortable life as a shepherd; Isaiah was called to speak a prophetic word to unhearing people; and Mary the young teenage girl was called to bring the Messiah into the world.
These heroes of the faith, after a few decades of trial and error, were finally ready (hineni) and they walked with a trust that God would provide and take care of them, knowing they didn’t have to trust in themselves anymore.
May we all be ready to say, with all of ourselves, hineni, hineni. I’m ready, my Lord.
I’m Greg Williams, reminding you to be fully ready when the Lord calls.