How do I explain my relationship with God to others, namely unbelievers? My small group leader got me thinking on this question this past Sunday, and what came to mind repeatedly was Isaiah 6:9.
“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send Me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “’Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’” ESV
Isaiah had a tough assignment. His commission from the Lord made it evident that most of the people would listen, but not take heed to, his prophetic words. The strength of my relationship with God is in the evidence of when I am not like those people. When I hear words from scripture and apply what is said, it represents an understanding of deeper truths God is wanting to teach me. When I see what is going on in the world around me and discern the needs and motivations of others, then I am perceiving with focus on his kingdom.
Isaiah 5 is a poetic description of the self-destruction of the people of Judah. He pronounces “woes” upon them because they are greedy, drunken, unjust, and mocking God in their sin. In chapter 6 a favorite king, Uzziah, has died. To comfort and encourage him, Isaiah gets the blessing of seeing the Lord still on the throne in all His glory. In contrast to the previous chapter, the “woe” is now on Isaiah himself because he sees the sin in others and perceives that he needs cleansing from God as well. He sees that his lips are sinning just like everyone else’s, and God addresses them with a coal that could destroy him but is meant to purify him.
Understanding Our Need for Purification
That is a scary thought. Purification is dangerous, but Isaiah leaned in close for the cleansing. He was then told to go preach to those who would not do the same. How can I make sure I end up like Isaiah, understanding and perceiving?
I am rebellious, lazy, and stubborn. I back up from the throne because I want to maintain control. I neglect his word, or I focus too much on worldly distractions. I slowly lose understanding, and I become critical and lack God’s perception and love for his children.
Recently, I heard a missionary say that Isaiah must have been face down to the ground in front of the throne, because all he could describe was the train, or hem, of God’s robe. I love this thought! I pray I am there with Isaiah every day, describing each stitch in detail.
This is how I explain my relationship with God. I lean in close. I read his word and listen to trusted spiritual leaders. God translates the text and sound waves into passion for truth and his kingdom. God gives me thousands of little epiphanies of understanding and perceiving. May these thoughts always set me in motion! Here am I, send me.