“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” – Isaiah 6:5-7
I started reading Isaiah last week on a whim. I had planned to read a New Testament book actually, but I felt drawn to Isaiah. And it’s quite revealing.
This particular Scripture has stuck with me since I read it a few days ago. Isaiah was in the presence of the Lord, and he immediately recognized his filth, his sin. He was a man on unclean lips, he said. And he mourned.
Then the angel comes to take away his sin so that Isaiah could worship and converse with God. But what struck me was how the angel did this: with a hot coal.
Frankly, if someone – even an angel – came at me with a hot coal, I would run for the hills. I would be terrified. Petrified. And then run far, far away.
I don’t know what Isaiah was thinking when all of this occurred; I don’t claim to have further insight on this than what the Bible says. However, here’s what happened afterward:
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” – Isaiah 6:8
Cleansing ourselves of some sin or some bad habit is never easy. It’s a hard, lengthy process, and that’s what I read into this. It’s painful. There may be tears. There may be hard days. But it’s a process that, in order to worship God more fully, to fulfill His will…we’ve got to endure this hell on earth.
I heard Mark Driscoll say something I’ve heard before by other pastors but something that has stuck with me recently: “Earth is the closest some people will ever get to hell. And it’s also the closest some people will ever get to heaven.”
This is the closest I will ever get to hell. This is not a peaceful world, this is not an easy life. But I’m not here for my comfort, either.
I’m here to serve. I’m here to love. I’m not here to judge or to sit comfortably in my home or try to blend in with the crowd. I have a purpose in life, and I need to be doing it. I certainly don't serve and love all the time, as God, naturally, knows, but He also knows that I am trying.
And, if the cleansing process is hard, the way on the other side is more beautiful. I think of the trials I’ve gone through in life – some of them were quite difficult – and I think about the tears, the pain, and the crying out to God that occurred…and then I remember what came as a result of those trials:
Peace. Clarity. And, as Calvin’s (from Calvin and Hobbes) father would say, character.
And, as scary as it undoubtedly was to have a hot coal against Isaiah’s lips, perhaps the greater challenge came afterward:
“Here am I. Send me.”
We go through cleansing for a purpose. It’s not just for our benefit – it’s so we can be more like Christ to those among us.
Here am I. Send me.
-- Univ. No. 4 is still ridiculous and can’t find my transcripts that apparently are at the undergrad office. However, Super Duper University said my maiden name on the transcript is no problem. Yea!
-- Speaking of Super Duper, I have my dissertation chair!!!
-- Aunt Betty will have scans done tomorrow to determine if the chemo and radiation are working. Please pray for her. Also, if you would like to send a card, I know she and our family would greatly appreciate it. She’s been sick for a long time now. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like her address.