Here I Am!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

I love this question for several reasons.

  • God knows the grammatically correct way to use “whom” and “who”.
  • The Lord combines two questions here — “Whom shall I send?” and “Who will go?” Because sometimes we’re sent, but we don’t go. In other words, He’s looking for someone who will say, “Sure, I’ll go” and then actually goes.
  • God is speaking for a group, namely the Trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit were alive and well in the Old Testament. They communicated with each other and decided to put out the call for volunteers.

send-me

I love this response for several reasons.

  • Isaiah just experienced a threshold-trembling, foundation-rattling, smoke-filled vision, complete with six-winged creatures flying around God Almighty’s throne. I’m impressed that Isaiah was able to speak at all.
  • Isaiah didn’t give a list of reasons why he wasn’t qualified. He didn’t ask for details about the job before signing up. God just said, “I need somebody” and Isaiah said, “I’m your man” even though he was the only man in the room.
  • The exclamation point! Isaiah is like the kid in the back row of the 3rd grade classroom who desperately wants to be the first one to give the answer to the teacher. He shoots his hand up in the air and almost falls out of his seat, saying “Ooo, oo, oo, me!  Send me!!!  Pick me!!!”  God must have loved that.

pick-me

I love Isaiah for several reasons.

  • Being a prophet was a hard calling. They were persecuted, misunderstood, mistreated and often killed. The hard truth they spoke was not usually well received.
  • They were asked to do some pretty weird things to make a point. Hosea had to marry a prostitute and keep taking her back every time she was unfaithful to show how God felt about Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him. Isaiah had to walk around naked for three years to be a visual example of how Israel was going to be stripped down to nothing by their enemies. (It’s right there in Isaiah 20:3.)
  • God told Isaiah up front that he was going to fail. His assignment was to preach to people who wouldn’t respond. In fact, his preaching would only serve to harden the hearts of the people, making God’s righteous judgment sure.

I’m not sure I’d sign up for that. I’m afraid I would have been the one in the back row, hiding behind the kid in front of me, being careful not to make eye contact, whispering, “Please don’t pick me, please don’t pick me.”

Comfort

We call our favorite cozy blankets “comforters”.

We call home-style food that brings thoughts of childhood “comfort food”.

During Advent we sing about “tidings of comfort and joy.”

God knows it’s hard to be us.

He told Isaiah to write it down:

“Comfort, comfort My people.” Isaiah 40:1

He doesn’t repeat words unless He’s trying to drive it home.

People need to hear tender words of comfort.

“Speak tenderly… tell them their sin has been paid for.”

“Shout it out and say, ‘Your God is here!'”

God knows it’s hard to be us.

So He sent the Holy Spirit, with the nickname “The Comforter”.

Unlike a blanket that wears out, and unlike the fleeting satisfaction of a favorite meal, this Comforter settles our spirits and reassures our doubts from the inside.

Who needs a tender word today?

“God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.”

Dr. John Henry Jowett

comfort

Lengthen and Strengthen

I’ve been hanging out with Isaiah this month. He starts out strong and doesn’t let up for 66 chapters.  Lots of judgment in the first 39 chapters is followed by comfort and consolation (mixed with a little more judgment) in the last 27 chapters. Speaking on God’s behalf to a rebellious nation wasn’t an easy job, so not too many applied for the position.

But when God said, “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah was like the kid in the back row of the 3rd grade classroom who desperately wanted to be the first one to give the answer to the teacher.  Isaiah shot his hand up in the air and almost fell out of his seat, saying “Ooo, oo, oo, me!  Send me!!!  Pick me!!!”  God must have loved that.

When I got to chapter 54, I hit the brakes and squealed to a halt.  There it was — flashing in red lights and sounding the siren. “Enlarge the site of your tent, and stretch out the drapes of your dwellings; don’t hold back. Lengthen your tent ropes and strengthen your stakes.” (verse 2)  

There has been a theme looking me square in the face every time I turn around lately. Every book I read, every Bible study and Sunday school class I sit in on, and even in a conference I attended, the same idea keeps hounding me.  It boils down to this:

I have spent a lot of time and effort putting my stakes down deep. I’ve studied, read, prayed and memorized. I’ve pounded down some sturdy anchors. Now it’s about time to lengthen the ropes.

Strong stakes aren’t for the purpose of keeping me safe and sound in my own little protective tent, complete with all the creature comforts this world has to offer. They are there to create the potential for enlarging my site, to make more room for whoever God wants to bring my way.  I don’t know exactly what “stretching out the drapes” will entail. I’m not sure what or who I’m making space for. But the message is loud and clear.

Strengthen the stakes and lengthen the ropes.

Lengthen and strengthen.

tent

 

 

What A Deal

saleWhen my girls visit, I like to take them to the Outlet Mall for clearance rack shopping.  After all those years of hand-me-downs and garage sale clothes, I figure I owe it to them.  Their men love it, because they know their wives will come home with something in their bags and nothing gone out of their pocketbooks.  Buying them a little something is my secret pleasure.

On Saturday, Katie put the boys down for a nap and we bolted out the door.  However, we were unprepared for what awaited us.

Outlet Mall + Labor Day Weekend + Sales = CRAZINESS

We parked at the far end of the parking lot.  We stood in line to get into the changing rooms.  We stood in line to make a purchase.  After going into two stores that had everything marked 50% off, we were ready to call it quits and considered ourselves lucky to make it out alive.

This morning I read about another unbelievable deal.

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”  Isaiah 55:1

People!  This is like the swankiest, most high-end store in the mall offering the absolute top quality merchandise for 100% off.  And the owner is out on the sidewalk begging us to come in and help ourselves.  No money, no cost.  Yet, we hurry by on the way to the Five & Dime for cheap trinkets and watered down Kool-Aid.  Not a deal even at half off.

It’s incredible that God lays everything before us, all kinds of riches, all manner of provision, and yet He has to implore us to come.  Just come.  No lines, no cranky sales clerks, no overspending on the credit card.  100% satisfaction.

“Out of my want and into Thy wealth, out of my sin and into Thyself — Jesus, I come to Thee.”

Pick Me

After the last post, and pondering how Mary responded to God’s message, I’ve been wondering how other people in the Bible reacted to a word from the Lord.  For instance, Joseph.  There is not one recorded word in the scriptures from the mouth of Joseph.  In fact, almost every time he’s mentioned, he’s sleeping.  God speaks to Joseph four times, each time in a dream.  God is always telling Joseph to “get up”.  To Joseph’s credit, what follows is, “so he got up”;  but not a word.  He must have been the strong silent type.

Now, take Moses.  God speaks to him from a burning bush about delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.  After giving God four reasons why he is not the man for the job, Moses finally just spits out, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”  It reminds me of trying to find someone to teach the Junior High Sunday school class.

Then there’s Isaiah.  God said, “Whom shall I send?”  and Isaiah is like the kid in the back row of the 3rd grade classroom who desperately wants to be the first one to give the answer to the teacher.  Isaiah shoots his hand up in the air and almost falls out of his seat, saying “Ooo, oo, oo, me!  Send me!!!  Pick me!!!”  God must have loved that.  Especially after dealing with Moses.

Demure Mary, quiet Joseph, reticent Moses, enthusiastic Isaiah – God used them all, regardless of the adjective before their name.