Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met? And how did you react to that encounter? I recently heard from a young lady who, upon having met one of her favorite football players, declared, “Oh my gosh, my life is complete!” I had to laugh, because it was really cute! She and I both understood her meaning. However, at times, we really are overtaken by emotion at the thought of meeting “that person.”
In the first few verses of Isaiah 6, we are allowed to listen in as the prophet meets God. “I can only imagine” — to borrow from a song by MercyMe — Isaiah’s full experience. His call and assignment are about to come from God — but first Isaiah must encounter God.
As he writes, Isaiah is clear on what happened and when: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord…” Isaiah is overtaken by emotion and declares, before his Creator, that he’s not worthy to be there. “I’m lost; my words don’t honor you,” Isaiah announces, “and the people I live among denigrate and desecrate your name.” [paraphrase] Nonetheless, God cleanses and justifies him and sends him off on a mission.
How about Moses? A fallen prince, now a fugitive from justice, is called by God into his presence and service—not because Moses is good enough, capable, or deserving but because God chooses to change and equip him.
[Image: Vincent Price as the Egyptian slain by Charleton Heston’s Moses The Ten Commandments.]
Or consider Saul: a persecutor and murderer of Christians whom God chooses to redeem and restore — not because Saul is worthy but because, in God’s words, “he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). And he goes forward as Paul – a new man through Christ.
[Image: Conversion on the Way to Damascus by Caravaggio.]
In each of these cases, and so many more in Scripture, God made the choice to cleanse and redeem sinful men for his purposes — and they were awestruck! Scripture shows us that they were humbled and amazed.
But where can we find common ground in this Isaiah 6:5 passage? Well, I’m a worthless sinner — a “man of unclean lips”— saved by grace! A failure made right only through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. There’s absolutely nothing good about me or anything I’ve done that merits this gift. And yet, God bestows it on me anyway.
Knowing this, I should reflect and ask: How do I live before my God each and every day? How do I approach my Creator and Redeemer? Do I take him for granted? Do I treat him casually? Do I even recognize that I’m daily in his presence?
As believers whom God has chosen to forgive, redeem, and restore as chosen instruments for his purposes, a right response and attitude is essential — and should naturally flow from us as an act of gratitude and praise to him.
Matt Redman, in his song “Mercy,” presents a reminder of the greatness of what has been done for us as he sings:
I will kneel in the dust
at the foot of the cross,
where mercy paid for me.
Where the wrath I deserve,
it is gone, it has passed.
Your blood has hidden me.
And then in the chorus, he offers this verse:
May I never lose the wonder,
oh, the wonder of your mercy.
So, as we live daily in God’s presence, let us demonstrate the same awe exhibited by Isaiah. And may we never lose the wonder of God’s mercy while realizing each and every day that it is only through the blood of Christ that our lives are ever really complete!