“I’m not ready.”
I’ve uttered this phrase many times throughout my life, but quite a lot recently. I am by nature a planner – tedious and attentive to detail. In fact, I tend to over-prepare because feeling unprepared or facing the unexpected can make me physically unsettled.
As I’m sure it can for most people. You’ve probably felt the same thing — when you strapped your baby into a car seat for that first ride home or heard the click of the seating restraint of the roller coaster or walked into a classroom to see the words “Pop Quiz” on the board. It’s that uneasy, nervous feeling in your gut. My son felt it last night as he walked into his new school to find his new desk and meet his new teacher. And I’ve felt it often this summer starting a new job in a new town with new people.
“I just don’t feel ready.”
What I’ve discovered over the years is that there’s not much I can do about this. I can worry all I like, but it doesn’t change a thing. There are some situations for which no amount of preparation will equip me.
I’ve had to find a different way.
Years ago I had a word tattooed on my right wrist. Tattooed because I need this word that much. It’s a lesson I need daily. And one day I hope it gets tattooed on my heart instead of just my skin. It’s the Hebrew word “hineni“, which mean “Here I am.”
It’s a phrase directly related to God’s own name.
“YHVH” (or Yahweh, as we pronounce it in English) means “I am who I am” or “I will be who I will be.” When Moses confronts the burning bush in Exodus 3, this is name God uses for himself. In other words, God is and God will be – all existence and possibility finds its moorings upon that foundation. There is nothing that can happen that will be outside of his scope and influence.
Hineni is a response to this fact. When God says “I am”, his people say “Here I am.” It’s more than just saying that I am physically present. To say hineni is to say that I am here with all of my being – physically, spiritually, emotionally – ready to do what I need to do and fully present in the moment.
Because if God is and God will be, then all I need to be is present. There is nothing that can happen outside God’s influence. He is the one who can take care of the possibility.
Too many times I get distracted trying to plan the details of my future. I’m afraid of failure, so I want it all mapped out before me. I can get paralyzed at the beginning worrying about the middle and end. Saying “Here I am” reminds me that those steps are beyond my control. All I have is this one. Hineni is always the first step in my journey.
So today may the word hineni be on your lips. May you leave the future to a God that is much bigger than you. May you be ready for anything because you are fully present where you are. May you take the first step of your journey, whatever it may be.
Because that’s all the readiness you’ll ever need.