My prayers have had a staccato beat like an ee cummings poem. I am near the ocean, and it seems like the waves splash and make a ruckus also. I feel like I am flailing ahead in life, an off-balance runner. And I stopped to pray. And the waves, I realize, have a steady, strong rhythm. And God is like the ocean. I can’t see or feel it all the time, but right now if I cared to prove it I could run down and stick my foot in the cold water. Prayer is kind of like that. I want to learn to swim in an awareness of God.
That is what Isaiah got in chapter 6. This is one of the most beautiful sections in the Bible. It has an elegant flow that speaks HOLY! To see God! The angels closest to Him specifically cover their faces. And Isaiah cries out in woe. Did it hurt to be close to the raw holiness? Did it feel like a drowning, crushing force?
This is God, high and lifted up. The afterthought, the hem of His robe, is enough to fill the space. It is not that He is oversized in the way we think of giants. His essence, His force of person, is like a supernova bursting out.
The house, temple, shakes with the voice of His servant and fills with smoke. It is an image that makes you step back. My snapshot of God is cropped compared to this picture.
Isaiah cries out, because not only he, but all the people around him can’t stand up to this reality. But an angel touches his lips with a burning coal from the altar, part of the sacrifice. Burning, painful cleansing. But then clean! And then Isaiah is ready to volunteer to speak for God. And the message, too, is painful.
This is one of the hardest passages. The people had blocked their ears so often that they could not listen. And there was so much destruction and pain coming. But also a holy seed. Like the promise to Eve in Genesis 3. And despite all the sin and filth and refusal to change, God, Holy God, who the angels can’t look at, will not leave us to self-destruct.
Awe. Like staring at the ocean and marveling that it changes the land, but it never changes. I need to stop more often and read passages like this. And breathe in the holiness, and remember that Jesus has called me to His holiness. In this life! Peter talks about that in 1 Peter 1, where God says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” What would it be like to live, swim, in that holiness?
God, You are holy. And I don’t stop to acknowledge that enough. And then I start hyperventilating in my prayers. Holy, powerful, You are enough to fill the needs of all the world. I’m sorry for trying to get by on my own. Please help me to get overwhelmed by You again, and renewed to speak Your message. Holy. Fiercely loving. Good. I want to see more. Thank You! Amen.