Hope for the Servant Isaiah 6: 1-8

Isaiah dreamIsaiah 6 shows how God gives hope to the servant.  The sixth chapter of Isaiah doesn’t open with the proverbial it happened in the years of King Jotham, Uzziah’s son.  It says; it happened in the year King Uzziah died, the former ruler.  Uzziah fell after he barged into the temple, pushed priests aside, and handled the holy things himself.  On his way out, his skin turns leprous and has to relinquish the throne of Israel.  Uzziah had been off the scene for a while, but Isaiah remembered the glory of his reign, and was stricken, depressed and felt hopeless by this loss.  The future seemed uncertain; as grief was felt throughout the nation.

God doesn’t intend for the people or a prophet to remain trapped in hopelessness.  Imagine young Isaiah, going through the motions of being a temple priest; spreading incense, saying prayers, tending to bulls burning on the altar.  He hopes the scent rising up to God makes the people’s forgiveness possible.  Suddenly, God comes bearing a word of hope in the form of angels flying around; causing the room to shake.  This miraculous movement readies the prophet Isaiah to hear God’s call to go to the hopeless people and speak a hopeful word for God.

God doesn’t seem to think it important to give us warning when to expect God to break into our lives.  It usually happens when we least expect it; for we can’t conjure up God by our own volition.  God comes in any manner and at any time to send a hopeful servant to a world needing a word of hope.  God can speak hope in the whisper of the wind or the roar of the sea.  God can come with rational word; sounding like a good teacher.  God can come holding our arms up like a good friend does when we’re sinking in desperation.  God comes in ordinary or extraordinary ways.

Isaiah feels a sense of unworthiness when God shows up to commission him to be a prophet to God’s disheartened people; he too is buried in a state of bleakness.  Isaiah sensed he was not worthy of this call and unable to fulfill it tasks.  So, he acknowledges his sense of unworthiness in the face of God’s sacred uniqueness saying, “Woe is me!  I am a man of unclean lips and I come from a long line of foul-mouthed people.” Woe is me

A sense of despair can cause us to feel we’re nothing when compared to others, thus unworthy of being used by God.  We look at other people, who do what we do and feel insignificant; thinking we are not valuable to God or to anyone else.  It’s possible to come to a place in our relationship with God that we think we’re not up to heaven’s standards of usability.

Our sense of shame develops when we think there is no hope.  This despair reinforces the myth we’re not just a person who does things wrong; we are a person who is wrong.  We are prone to act in unhealthy ways; exhibiting destructive and often time’s addictive behavior because we think we are damaged goods.  Our lifestyle choices underline our sense of thinking we have nothing to offer to anyone or anything.  This vicious cycle heaps on more shame; convincing us we’re nothing in the eyes of God or others.  Our response in these moments can be a tipping point in our life.

Isaiah's AngelGod doesn’t agree with Isaiah about his unclean lips.  God refuses to participate in making him feel like there is nothing he can do about this hopeless situation.  God sends the six-winged angel to burn off the residue of his gloom and shame.  This is an act of removing any sense of despondency that could prevent Isaiah from feeling he is not useful to God.

All of us are frail creatures who have experienced our fair share of failures.  Over time, we allow our imperfections to cause us to disconnect from our Creator; no longer cooperating in being a redemptive force in the world with our Savior.  God is the Grand Creator of all humanity, but God is also the Lavish Lover of our souls.  God knows our weaknesses, but doesn’t dwell on our condition.  Nor does God want us to get stuck in a hopeless state because we think we are unworthy, thus not viable for service to God.

Ironically, a person’s sense of unworthiness may grow upon hearing of God’s unmerited love.  It’s possible to feel worse after being told the love of God will never let us go.  Undeserving feelings are fed by the pain created by the previously broken parts of our lives.  There is a great need for prophets to speak in unmistakable terms, in Isaiah’s time and in our time, that even the broken pieces of our life, which fuel our hopelessness, are loved by a holy God who loves us wholly.

God applies a remedy to Isaiah’s feelings of unworthiness.  Once God has taken away Isaiah’s guilt and atoned for his sin, God asks, “Whom shall I send?  Who will go?”  Isaiah responds with the common words of the servant, “Here I am, Lord send me.”  God’s remedy to the common human condition of feeling unworthy in the grand scheme of all things, is to move us from “Woe is me” to “Here I am, send me.”  Here I am

This remedy has been a God’s practice from the beginning of time.  It’s found on every page Scripture and in the life of every person who opens themselves up to God’s call.  God can clean up anybody, so God can send them out.  God reaches down to the downhearted to pick them up, so they can offer the same remedy, which they just received.  The essence of the hope we bear is anyone can get past past sin.

We’re to be hopeful sent servants of who offer hopeful words to those who feel hopeless.  Hopeful servants rush alongside those who have been knocked off the beam or fallen off the straight and narrow so they might lift them up with hope filled promises.  Hopeful servants speak an assuring word to the fearful persons caught in destructive distractions and bad behaviors as a way of dealing with their fallen state.  God offers redeeming grace to sin-weary persons, so they may be hope filled servants.

Let us confess, at times, we’ve spoke of the holiness of God in ways that didn’t help people deal constructively with their sense of unworthiness.  We too quickly spoke of a person’s misdeeds; ignoring that gossip appears alongside the sins of adultery and fornication.  We try to make ourselves feel better by pulling others down, so they wallow with us in our own sense of worthlessness.  Our misdirected focus on a person’s past sins can prevent them from being able to hear God’s hopeful remedy that can overcome a sense of hopelessness in their lives.

Grace OfferedIt is hard, but it is the necessary work of the church to bear hope to persons who feel so unworthy they can only say is “Woe is me!”  Our work and words are to buoy people’s courage, so they can act on new promises to God and themselves.  We’re to speak, so our human voice sounds like heaven’s voice; echoing the message of God love.  We’re to speak repetitively how God’s love will not let anyone go; staying on the job till the hopeless know nothing can separate them from God’s love in Christ Jesus.

Working through one’s sense of feeling unworthy is part of the process of spiritual maturity that leads to us offering ourselves saying, “Here I am Lord, send me!”  Being worthy or able has never been a requirement to be used by God.  We must allow the shadow parts of lives that chip away at sense of being loved by God to die; until they no longer feed our sense of hopelessness and uselessness.  God’s forgiving love persists until we bear hope as a servant.  May we not be satisfied until we witness among the precincts of FUMC, Irving more of us saying “Here am I Lord, send me.

Published in: on February 4, 2013 at 7:32 am  Leave a Comment  

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