“Who Will Go For Us?”
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke.
5 And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.”
8 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!”
This past week my brother-in-law’s best friend, a man named Tim, was in a car accident. And this was not a small fender bender. He slammed into a tree on the side of the road. The entire front half of the car crumpled up. He broke multiple bones in his legs and went unconscious. And then his car caught on fire with him still in it.
It was at this time that two people saw the car and saw that Tim was still in it. One was a man who was brave enough to go up to a car on fire, twist open the mangled driver side door, and lift Tim, who was pinched in, and not a small man, out of the car and out of the flames.
The second person was a woman. She saw that after Tim was taken out of the car, he was bleeding pretty heavily. And so she tied a tourniquet around his wounds, keeping in what blood she could. And then, for the entire time they waited for the ambulance to come, she knelt down and prayed for Tim to survive.
Tim is now in the hospital. He has severe burns all along the bottom half of his body. He has multiple broken bones that will take months to heal. But he is alive. Because of the actions of those two people.
The local news did a segment on him a couple days ago. And when asked about the accident and rescue, Tim just kept saying over and over again, “God was definitely there.”
As I heard this story, one question came straight to my mind: “What gave these two people the ability to save his life? What made them stop and approach the car? What gave them the courage to go into a car that was on fire? What gave them the strength to twist open the door and grab out a grown man, unconscious and pinched in his seat? What gave them the wisdom to not just call for help, but immediately tie a tourniquet around his wounds, saving his life?
I bet if you asked the two of them they would say the same thing Tim did. “God was definitely there.” God was definitely there, living and moving and acting through these people.
We may look at these two individuals and say, “We could never be the heroes they are. We could never step up to a calling like they did.” We may look and say, it’s great that they lived into this moment and calling to save a life, but I can’t live into a calling as great as that. I could never do something like that.” That is how we often think about ourselves. Others are heroes. Others are called. Not me. But these words from Isaiah say something far different.
These words in Isaiah 6 say God is at work even in imperfect people, even in people who doubt themselves, in people who would never see themselves as worthy of a great calling on their own. These words from Isaiah say God’s power and glory and love are strong enough to live and move and breathe and do great and marvelous things through every one of us, even you and me.
This passage is often thought of as the calling of the prophet Isaiah. And it is the moment where Isaiah fully steps into his calling to proclaim God’s message to the people. But the focus of all of this scene is not on Isaiah himself. We actually know very little about him except that he is just like us, an imperfect person living in an imperfect land.
The rest of this scene is all about God and how great our God is. It starts with speaking about the Temple in Jerusalem, the holiest place, the grandest building in Jerusalem. And God says, even this marvelous building holds but a hem of my robe. I am so much bigger than you can ever imagine. God is not contained to one building or one place. But God’s glory fills the entire earth. What we see now of God is only a tiny bit, only a cover of a robe. There is so, so much more. It a scene of worship and awe, where even the mightiest of heaven’s creatures can do nothing but bow down and be in awe of the God who made us all, who redeemed us all, and who dwells among us all.
And when Isaiah sees this scene and fears and trembles, “Who am I to be here? Who am I to be have a calling from God? I can’t do it on my own,” God shows Isaiah that it’s not on his power or his worthiness that he must fulfill this calling, but it is on God’s power, it is through God’s love, it is through God’s strength and holiness and care that Isaiah can go and do what God is calling him towards.
And Isaiah’s calling is not an easy one. The message God wants Isaiah to send out is that the people have forgotten about justice. The leaders are looking for help in all the wrong places. They have turned from God and been blinded and deaf to God’s message. Isaiah’s calling is to challenge the rulers and powers and even his own countrymen and women to live differently. That is not a message most people want to hear. Isaiah is going to risk everything to share it. But he does share it. And he does share it, in maybe the most beautiful poetry and language and visions of all of scripture. It’s not because Isaiah is a perfect person. Or because he is that great on his own. But it’s because our amazing God is living inside of him, filling him with the strength and hope and gifts to live into his calling.
And the same is true for us. As heroic as those two people at the car scene were this past week, I am sure that they are not perfect people. I am positive that they have said words they regret, that they have had actions that have been wrong in their past, that they too like all of us have times of doubt about themselves and their gifts. But God was definitely there. And because of that, something amazing happened through these two people.
Now each one of our callings is probably different. Not most of us will be called to rescue someone from a burning car. Not most of us will be called to preach to kings that they have forgotten justice and mercy and love. But our callings are just as important, just as life changing. It may be as a teacher who shows a student that there is so much more value and worth and gifts inside of them than they ever saw in themselves before. It may be as a doctor or nurse who not only heals but walks alongside a patient and family at a very difficult time. It may be as a friend whose love and presence means far more than you will ever know. It may be as someone who cooks food for Burnt Ordinary or Motel 6, and shows to a weary world what God’s love can look like. It may be as someone who drives a housebound person for Faith in Action so they can visit the doctor or eat for the week. It may be as a tutor for Literacy for Life whose work allows their learner to seek out that career they always thought was too great for them to dream for.
Each one of us has a calling from God. Each one of us is invited to change lives, change this world, fill it with life and love, hope, and joy. And while we may think “Who am I to do such a thing?” God says you are one of my beloved children. You are made in the image of the awe-inspiring Creator. You are forgiven, redeemed, and made new through the grace of Jesus Christ. And you are empowered with gifts and talents, strength and might through the live-breathing presence of the Holy Spirit.
“Who will go for us?” the God who is three-in-one asks us today. And our answer is this: “Here we are. With your strength God, we can do anything. Send us.” Amen.