By David Faust
That’s where we struggle: in the middle. How can we live by faith when we’re in the middle of raising a family, building a career, or dealing with complicated problems? Yet that’s exactly where we need God’s presence and power—in the middle of our ordinary circumstances. The opening verses of Isaiah 6 suggest four prayers that can help:
“Lord, lift our eyes.”
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord” (Isaiah 6:1). For us that would be like saying, “In the year President Kennedy was assassinated” or “When 9/11 happened.” Uzziah became king when he was 16 years old, and he reigned for 52 years (2 Chronicles 26:3). It’s unnerving when a longtime leader dies. Isaiah could have focused on the disintegrating government, worried that his nation was falling apart, but instead he “saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne” (v. 1). The king died, but the throne was still occupied! The earthly King Uzziah died, but the heavenly King became more visible.
Even in times of confusion and chaos, God remains on his throne. In the middle of our daily tasks, we need to remember: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory’” (Isaiah 6:3).
“Lord, humble our hearts.”
Confronted with the glory of God, Isaiah exclaimed, “‘Woe to me! . . . 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’” (v. 5). Isaiah was one of the finest people alive at that time, but his righteousness was nothing compared to God’s.
When we see who God is, we see ourselves as we really are. Bright light exposes dirt. In the light of God’s holiness, our unholiness is exposed. This calls for deep humility. God will not despise a broken, contrite heart.
“Lord, forgive our sins.”
Anyone who has said regrettable words can relate to Isaiah’s confession, “I am a man of unclean lips.” Mercifully, God didn’t leave him in that condition. “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’” (vv. 6, 7).
A burning coal pressed against the lips would really hurt, but the pain led to a good result. God graciously removed Isaiah’s guilt. The burning coal came from the altar where priests killed and burned animals as sacrifices for sin. The coal had been soaked in blood. It reminds us of the cross of Christ, soaked with the blood of God’s Son.
“Lord, send us to serve.”
“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!’” (v. 8).
When the Lord called for volunteers, Isaiah raised his hand and stepped forward. He had been “a man of unclean lips,” but now by grace he was forgiven and qualified to serve God. What about us? God calls us to serve right in the middle of the mess we call life.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for September 6, 2015
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Isaiah 9, 10