Saturday, May 23, 2009

Here am I! Send me.

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for."

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

The above passage is taken from Isaiah 6:1-8. It's my favorite section of Scripture. I love it because I think that the seraphim flying around is a strange but beautiful picture of God's creation. I also think it's an awesome picture of God's grace and the way He enables us to do His work.

However, whenever I hear people mention this in regards to missions, they seem to camp on verse 8, where God asks who will go out for Him and Isaiah responds, "Here am I! Send me." I mean, it's completely Biblical (seeing how it's from the Bible), but I think you can easily miss what God's done for Isaiah in order to use him to accomplish His purpose.

Isaiah was a man who was unclean. He was imperfect. He was a creature that God had created from dirt. He saw the face of God and thought that he should be struck down dead for it, because he was unworthy to glance upon the glory of his Maker. God's response was not, "It's OK. Just look. I'm not gonna hurt you." The seraph flew to Isaiah, touching his "unclean lips" with the live coal to purge away any filth. Why? Because he'd done great things for God in the past? Not at all. Isaiah 64:6 says that our righteousness and good deeds are polluted garments or filthy rags. No, God sent the seraph to make Isaiah righteous because God is gracious. I think Paul said it great in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 when he wrote, "Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." It was only when God had atoned for Isaiah's sins was he able to answer God's question with an enthusiastic, "Here am I! Send me."

I think there's a reason that God put that on my heart just a few months before I decided to do EDGE Corps. I know I have sin. I'd be a fool to deny it. When I look at that, it's easy for me to say, "I'm useless. How could God use a wretch like me. I'm so far from His standard of perfection, there's no way He could use me." But when I read about Isaiah, I remember, "Yes, I am useless by my own power. I am far from perfection by my own power. But God has given me His Holy Spirit. I'm not operating under my power anymore. God doesn't see imperfection and sin when He sees me. He sees the blood of Jesus. He sees purity. He sees perfection." I get so wrapped up in what I can do for God or against God that I forget that none of that matters to God. My efforts to correct myself mean nothing. Jesus paid for my sin. Now He wants me for His work. My duty is not to do good to please Him, but trust in Him to lead me in His will. His grace is truly sufficient.