"Here I am! Send me." (Isaiah 6:8)
Five words that could change your life.
Growing up, many of the games I loved playing involved either not getting caught or not being found. For example, hide-and-go-seek tag and sardines both rewarded the kids that could avoid detection or escape untouched. Remaining hidden from the seeker was the goal. In the Bible, we see countless examples of people hiding from God. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Jonah on the boat to Tarshish. Even Peter in denying Jesus three times. And all were unsuccessful. As David so eloquently states in Psalm 139:7, "Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?"
Have you ever hid from God when He called? If I'm honest, I have hid from God in the past and I can still be prone to do so now. I know I won't be successful, and yet for some reason I still try. Why can it be so hard for me to listen and respond when God is seeking me?
Shame: "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..." I've made mistakes in life (I would venture to say that we all have!), and I will most certainly make more in the future. However, when I let these moments of sin, times of despair, and my "unclean lips", overwhelm me and my ability to see God in the midst of circumstances, I diminish the work of Jesus on the cross. I may hide because I don't want to confront the shame I feel or I don't know how I could actually be useful for God's purposes in this state. Light illuminates the darkness. In hiding, I allow lies to rule in the place that only God's amazing grace and truth should reign.
Selfishness: I've been often told, "do what makes you happy," and in many ways our culture tells us each day that we would be happier if we just had a little more. All too often, I've hid behind the "more monster" which loudly calls out: "You deserve more...more money, more approval of others, more recognition, more "me" time!" When I am consumed with my own desires and aspirations, there's no space in my budget, schedule, or priorities for the purposes of God. In my selfishness, I can't deal with the thought of uncertainty or a lack of control. I forfeit the incredible opportunity to respond to God's call in favor of running after worldly pleasures that moth and rust will destroy.
What might happen if we stopped running and instead came out of our hiding places to meet God? In Isaiah 6, Isaiah wasn't able to say these five words because he was perfect. Isaiah didn't boldly embrace being sent by God because he knew what it all entailed. Rather, his powerful answer flowed freely as the result of a perfect God completely forgiving all of his imperfections. Isaiah's five words changed his life, not necessarily making everything easy (as we read in the rest of the book of Isaiah), however, it made everything about God. In the end, it was this response that made all of the difference and empowered him to receive the authority and responsibility to be God's mouthpiece.
As we continue in our ELI Journey, I firmly believe that God is calling out to each of us, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" The question has been asked and the invitation has been made. Will I hide behind my shame, selfishness, and other false hopes? Or will I move towards God as one made righteous by His son? Instead of giving power to any of the tempting alternatives, let's approach God humbly, on our knees and with open arms. When you feel yourself pulling away or your gaze begins to wander for the nearest hiding place, reaffix your gaze solely on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. May our prayer and posture for this week first be, "Here I am! Send me." Then, let's see what God might do.
"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 I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:5-8)