So far, there has been a terrible loss, the foundation of the temple has been shaken, and Isaiah has realized that he is undone and bereft in his sin. What more could be required? Well, this is the part of the story we all know – a cleansing by fire.
That realization comes to us all at some point. We are undone; we are “unclean”. Sometimes that's a result of things that we DO actively. Other times that feeling is a result of the actions of those who surround our lives.; their bad decisions affect us, and though we are not guilty, we still feel the burden of shame. Purification comes, but always at a cost.
Isaiah 6:6 – Then flew on of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: (7) And he laid it upon my mouth and said, “Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged.”
Simple truth: burning hurts. Bad. I remember being around 10 and walking into the kitchen. I could smell the fresh cornbread in the air, and just as I expected, there it sat, on the stove. In the cast iron skillet, looking so inviting and ready for me to cut into. Since I was a short 10, I thought it would be a great idea to move it to the table, so that I could more easily reach and cut the cornbread. So, I reached out and grabbed the handle of the cast iron skillet with a firm grip . . . you can guess the rest. It had been out of the oven for barely a minute, and my hand was COOKED. Many memories will fade, but the pain of that burn on my right hand? Not any time soon. Pain like that you remember – pain from a burn.
The purification of the called is like that. It hurts. There is a modern myth that when you bring your sins to Christ and begin to follow Him, things will go smoothly. Life will be kind. The birds will sing with you as you do housework and little mice will appear to help you with your chores. I know that sounds a lot like Cinderella, but truthfully that's how a lot of Christians think. “Hey, I love God now. He will make my life easy.” No dice. If you are going to work for Him, you will suffer. He will cleanse you for free, but moving forward into deeper waters of purification for service? That doesn't come without paying the price.
Before you pray for God to use you as never before, to open the doors of opportunity and help you to grow into your abilities, be sure that you have counted the cost. Looking back through my journals, I started praying that prayer six years ago. These past five years have been Job-like in the intensity of suffering and loss. Am I sorry I prayed the prayer? No, not at all. But I'm very glad that I did not know six years ago how much I would have to sacrifice, how much I would have to lose, the price I would have to pay, the burning of purification that I would have to endure. I'm not sure that, knowing what would come, I would have been brave enough to take the plunge.
Somewhere within the last few weeks, I've come to this realization about myself: I have been refined by fire. I am ready to be used, for the first time in my life. I am ready to step into the place He wants me to go. Where is that? At this point, your guess is as good as mine. But I'm ready to go. Just waiting on the marching instructions. Of course, if they are like Isaiah's . . . but hey, that's the next entry . . .