I wonder what heaven is like. Today we get a glimpse of heaven, or at least, one person’s vision of what heaven is like. We read in Isaiah of the Lord sitting high on his throne. The hem of his robe fills the space and he is surrounded by Seraphs with six wings giving praise to God.
The reality is that we don’t know what heaven is like. So we are left with our imagination. As Isaiah mentions today, King Uzziah has died and what we read is his vision of heaven.
Immediately King Uzziah thinks he is in the wrong place. Despite all the good he may have done in his life, his first thought is, “why me? Why am I here? He is not worthy. He has done and said things that in his mind would not warrant entry into heaven. “I am a man of unclean lips,” he says in verse 5. “Yet I see the Lord of hosts.” He can’t quite believe that despite everything, he is still here where he sees the Lord.
Then one of the Seraphs flies over with a live coal and touches the Kings lips with it. Yes it is painful and scorching and serves to remind us of the seriousness of sin and the consequences of our actions. What we say and do in the world matters and matters to God. The King’s lips are burned in order to be cleansed. Yes the King may have done and said bad things, but he is cleansed, forgiven, and ready for another chance. Despite the ways in which we turn away from God, God still provides opportunity for us to try again. And so the moment comes when the Lord asks, “Whom shall I send?” (Is 6: 8). King Uzzaih does not need to be asked twice and steps forward ready for what the Lord has for him.
Do you believe you are called by God? I hope you do. I wonder how we respond when we are called by God. It seems that our natural, knee jerk reaction is to shy away in the presence of the Holy. Even the Seraphs cover their eyes. There is an innate human reaction to believe that we are somehow inadequate before God. It’s strange and funny to think that when it comes to God and what God wants, we somehow believe we are not cut out for the task. When God calls, how will we respond?
The truth is we don’t know. We don’t know how we will respond. It is one of those situations where we don’t know until we are in the moment. But we do have past experiences. The thing is that we have all been called by God before. We have our past experiences and we have our Faith. And so the honest answer really is that when God calls, we are able to make a faithful response to the best of our ability on any given day at any given time.
So when we look back and reflect back on our past experiences of being called by God, how do we feel about how we responded? Would we do anything different?
We enter into the season of Pentecost where we are led by the Holy Spirit to respond to a world that yearns for what we as the People of God have to offer. We have something special and life giving that is so needed in the world today. God calls us through our daily tasks and responsibilities to bring the love of God into the world. A love that knows no boundaries and that says no matter what you have or have not done, you are loved by God. God calls us to bring this message of love into the world. God calls us, despite how the King may feel, because we are worthy.
We are worthy, made clean by God, forgiven by God and made ready to be sent by God.
If we believe that we are in fact called by God, then we need to claim and own this belief as our own. Because by the grace of God, despite all the ways we may be busy or feel ‘unworthy’ - whatever that is supposed to mean - we are called because we have known and experienced the love of God in our lives. That is in part why we bother to come to church is it not. . . To celebrate and give thanks to God because deep down in our soul we have felt God’s love for us in our lives, probably more than once.
So do you believe you are called by God? King Uzziah’s vision is one that portrays a powerful and strong God. A God that has the ability to hold all things in God’s hands. What a comforting thought, especially when we are called to be the Church in a world that is influential, uncertain and can leave us fearful of what the future holds. This is a passage that reminds us that the future is in God’s almighty hands.