Thursday, August 23, 2012

seeing

     In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another:

                         “Holy, holy , holy is the Lord Almighty;
                          the whole earth is full of his glory.”

 
     At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.  “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 seraphs 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.
      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 6:1-8)

I saw the Lord.  What an incredible statement!  Doesn't it make something deep within you want to ask, "How?"  I mean, were you praying?  Or was it in a dream?  Were you somehow mysteriously lifted up into the heavenly realms?  Or were you just sitting in the temple minding your own business?  Were you looking for Him, waiting and hoping and longing for His appearing?  Or did it take you completely by surprise?  Were your eyes closed or open?  I mean, did you see Him with your physical eyes, or with the eyes of your heart?  Whatever the case, there was definitely no mistaking that it was Him.  There was none of that "Do you think that might have been God that I just saw...or heard?"  The way He revealed himself removed all doubt.  Don't we all long for that.  Don't we all long for God to come to us that way, to appear, to show up in our life, our world.  To show up in such a way that forms and shapes every second of every minute of the rest of our lives?
     The seraphs see Him too and call out to one another those extraordinary words: Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth (not merely the temple) is full of His glory.  The very sound of their voices made the doorposts and threshold shake, and fill the temple with smoke.  If their voices are that powerful...what about His?
     And Isaiah's response is priceless.  Woe to me! I am ruined!  The sight of such holiness and such glory completely overwhelmed him.  He wasn't even worthy to utter the words the angels had just spoken of the Almighty.  For I am a man of unclean lips, and live among a people of unclean lips, and my very eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty. Once I laid eyes of You, once You revealed yourself to me, once You pulled back the curtain just enough to allow me to get even the smallest glimpse of You, it was simply too much for me.  I am undone!  I will never be the same.  
     But the story doesn't stop there...it just keeps getting better.  For one of the seraphs flies from the altar of sacrifice with a live coal and touches it to those unclean lips.  And the guilt is taken away, the sin is atoned for.  The Hebrew word for atone means to cover.  Guilt and sin has been covered, and Isaiah is completely cleansed, pure, white as snow.
     And then, after this incredible act of love and forgiveness and restoration...then, and only then, does God ask that wonderful question: "Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?"  To which the heart that has just been seized by the power of His great affection quickly and readily responds..."Here am I. Send me!"
     Maybe the pattern that is on display here is for me as well.  Maybe the seeing of God is where it all begins.  The seeing of His glory, the seeing of His holiness.  The seeing of my own woeful condition before Him.  The seeing that lets me recognize my own desperate need, as well as His exceedingly extravagant love.  The seeing that both captures my heart and completely transforms my life, in a way that makes me want to be the first one to raise my hand when the question comes, "Whom shall I send?" 
     Send me, O Lord, because O do I have a story to tell!!!

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