In Isaiah 6, the prophet Isaiah answers a pretty big question from God boldly and confidently.
“Whom shall I send?”
“Here I am, send me.”
Sometimes I'm blown away by the confidence Isaiah had to literally be there in the presence of God in all His wonder and answer Him in that way. I feel like I - in all my humanness - would probably spend at least 30 seconds weighing up the pros and cons. So what can the example of Isaiah teach us?
Isaiah 6 verse 5 says, “Woe to me!” I cried. “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.” In The Message it gets a little bit more dramatic, and Isaiah proclaims that he’s as good as dead because of who he is and the way he has acted up until now. Ouch.
When I first read this, I immediately thought: Isn’t it interesting that Isaiah’s initial reaction to meeting God was, “I’m rubbish, I’m not good enough”? Yes, we will never be as good as God - he’s perfect right? and the Bible says that we are sinners and it is through grace alone that we have been saved, I know that, but - we are all still made in God’s image. But, for Isaiah, instead of being overcome with gratitude and joy that he is finally meeting God face to face - what an honour - he immediately recalls and is overcome by every single bad thing he’s ever said or done and literally says he thinks God will kill him because of it. Poor guy.
But then - I think that I feel like this quite a bit of the time too. I’m a perfectionist by nature, but I think we can all relate to not thinking we’re good enough. Let me tell you, my biggest insecurity used to be the thing that should have given me the most security…my relationship with God. There may be some of you who are comparing yourselves to those around you, because that person is involved in all the church events throughout the week and it makes me feel so guilty because I don’t have the time to do that…but maybe it’s because I’m not dedicated enough…maybe I’m not worthy of this amazing love that God has given me…I don’t do enough for him in return, I don’t spend enough time with Him…it’s easy to spiral, right?
Friends, I do this all. the. time. It’s like a mantra in my head sometimes: I’m not good enough, I’m not good enough. But…back to Isaiah - what does God do next? Despite what Isaiah thinks of himself, despite the fact that he’s counted himself out and thinks he’s good for nothing?
God. forgives. him. He forgives him of his sins AND his guilt. All of the bad things he’s done have been taken away AND the guilty “I’m rubbish” feelings that come along with it. So God forgives Isaiah - with a burning coal to his lips which is kind of odd to me. But I guess, when you think about it, crucifying a blameless man on a wooden cross with nails through his hands is kinda odd too, if you don’t have the context. Because, that’s our equivalent. Just as Isaiah’s sins were forgiven by God, our sins have been forgiven too - by Jesus dying on the cross for us. Our sins have been atoned for and our guilt is taken away (the exact words from Isaiah) by the same God who forgave so many thousands of years ago. I think that’s pretty mind blowing.
Isaiah then heard God say “Whom shall I send?” aka “Who will go and do my work?” And the newly forgiven Isaiah decided to just go for it and say, “Here I am, send me!” And from reading the rest of the book of Isaiah, we can see that he went on to do some pretty great things.
So, in literally 4 verses, we’ve gone from Isaiah thinking he’s not good enough, to God forgiving him, and then commissioning him to be sent out and do God’s work to build His kingdom. To me, this looks pretty similar to the story of the whole Bible…with the Fall and humans living in their sin, to Jesus dying on the cross and all of our sins being forgiven, to the Great Commission in Acts where we, as Christians, are called to go and make disciples of all the nations.
So, if you’re sat there thinking you’re not good enough, that God cannot use you, your life is too much of a mess, or you think you’re just too far gone, it’s all very well saying this, but Isaiah was better than me because…. - hear this:
There is one main difference between us and Isaiah.
Isaiah felt that way AND THEN he was forgiven by God.
But - it’s different for us. Jesus has already died. Our sins have already been forgiven.
We don’t have to waste our time thinking we’re rubbish and living in that place of fear and insecurity - God has already taken care of that for us. We’re free from those chains of insecurity that could have held us back and we’re now living in the freedom to go and do the work of God in this world without fear. So if you think you’re not good enough know that God has ALREADY said you’re good enough. He ALREADY knew you were good enough before you were even born. And there’s nothing that you can do to change that.
God is asking us the same question that He asked Isaiah, “Whom shall I send?” And, knowing that we ARE good enough and that we have been FORGIVEN, it’s time for us to answer as Isaiah did, “Here I am, send me.”