2/11/2019 7:03:45 PM
Reflection: Send Me?
One thing I do when I read Scripture is imagine the story as it unfolds. I like to see, in my mind, the entire scene, filling in the details as I go along. Our reading from Isaiah 6:1-13 today is one of those stories we think we already know. In seminary, this story was so central to our identity, the school gave out t-shirts quoting verse 8. Isaiah received a vision of an over-the-top God. God, sitting on the throne, is high above Isaiah and wearing a long robe. The robe is so large; the Temple can only hold its hem. Isaiah was so overwhelmed by this vision of God; he could only confess who he truly was. God's presence was a mirror for Isaiah, showcasing how far from perfect Isaiah was. God, however, had a plan for Isaiah and didn't let Isaiah's imperfection stop Isaiah from spreading God's word. God transformed Isaiah, touching his lips with a burning piece of coal. After God did this, God asked, "Whom shall I send?" And Isaiah responded, enthusiastically, "Send me!"
Or did he? Our translation gives us an exclamation mark at the end of Isaiah's statement because, I think, we want Isaiah's response to be enthusiastic. We want to believe that experiencing God's presence will make us want to say a big "yes" to God. But, as you were imaging this scene, how many other people were in the Temple with Isaiah? We have seraphs flying around, the hem of God's robe, Isaiah... and that's it. In this vision of God, there is no one else present. So when God asked the question, there's no one else who could answer. We could imagine this scene with Isaiah looking around, noticing he's by himself, and saying, "Here am I...send me?" And God, whether Isaiah was enthusiastic or not, still commissioned him to bring God's word to all people.
I honestly believe that we want an experience of God to propel us into a new Christ-like way of life. We want to meet God face-to-face and, without thinking, shout out, "send me!" We want this so badly, we end up using this desire as an excuse to do nothing. If we don't feel this kind of enthusiasm, we assume we haven't met God. Or, if we do meet God but we're left doubting, confused, or worried, then we assume we haven't had an authentic "God-moment." We end up believing that God will always have an exclamation point. Yet we know that's not, necessarily, how God works. God comes to us when we need God. And that experience can feel like a lightning bolt or be so subtle, it could feel like a little wine on our lips and a crumb of bread in our belly. We are called to be aware of the God who is always with us. And since God is always with us, we are also called to bring God's word to all people, whether we're enthusiastic about it or not.