When God called Randy to leave the calling to teach in public schools for full time ministry to his church, each of us were completely humbled by the idea. We were content, had learned the ropes of teaching and comfortable in our lives. Our first response was weak stomachs with thoughts of all our inadequacies. But it seems, that is exactly where God wants us to be before He begins a new work within us that produces His work of love, mercy, and grace through us.
We learned that others cannot see God in us until God does His work in us. Assurance of His call comes in a wave of the holiness that can only come from God which causes us to confidently say “YES! Do what you want in me and through me because I’m Yours.” This confidence comes from Christ, not from us! We know our limitations; God knows our potential when coupled with His power!
Before we can minister to others, we must permit God to minister to us. Before we pronounce bad news and God’s judgment upon others, we must sincerely admit our own sin and inadequacies. Isaiah’s conviction led to confession, and confession led to cleansing (see 1 John 1:9). Like Isaiah, many of the other great heroes of faith saw themselves as sinners and humbled themselves before God: Abraham (Gen. 18:27), Jacob (Gen. 32:10), Job (Job 40:1–5), David (2 Sam. 7:18), Paul (1 Tim. 1:15), and Peter (Luke 5:8–11).
God provides this ministry to Isaiah as He calls him to “go and tell”.
Isaiah 6, The Message
Holy, Holy, Holy!
1-8 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Master sitting on a throne—high, exalted!—and the train of his robes filled the Temple. Angel-seraphs hovered above him, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew. And they called back and forth one to the other,
Holy, Holy, Holy is God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
His bright glory fills the whole earth.
The foundations trembled at the sound of the angel voices, and then the whole house filled with smoke. I said,
“Doom! It’s Doomsday!
I’m as good as dead!
Every word I’ve ever spoken is tainted—
And the people I live with talk the same way,
using words that corrupt and desecrate.
And here I’ve looked God in the face!
The King! God-of-the-Angel-Armies!”
Then one of the angel-seraphs flew to me. He held a live coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with the coal and said,
“Look. This coal has touched your lips.
Gone your guilt,
your sins wiped out.”
And then I heard the voice of the Master:
“Whom shall I send?
Who will go for us?”
I spoke up,
* * *
9-10 He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Listen hard, but you aren’t going to get it;
look hard, but you won’t catch on.’
Make these people blockheads,
with fingers in their ears and blindfolds on their eyes,
So they won’t see a thing,
won’t hear a word,
So they won’t have a clue about what’s going on
and, yes, so they won’t turn around and be made whole.”
11-13 Astonished, I said,
“And Master, how long is this to go on?”
He said, “Until the cities are emptied out,
not a soul left in the cities—
Houses empty of people,
countryside empty of people.
Until I, God, get rid of everyone, sending them off,
the land totally empty.
And even if some should survive, say a tenth,
the devastation will start up again.
The country will look like pine and oak forest
with every tree cut down—
Every tree a stump, a huge field of stumps.
But there’s a holy seed in those stumps.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
So many times, called people of God wonder if they heard God correctly when the people they are “going and telling” are not listening or behaving with God’s message and direction for their lives. We are human so it is easy to fall into that thinking. But we must remember ministry is given by God, directed by God and fulfilled by the Holy Spirit of God through us. “Obedience is far better than sacrifice” says the Lord God. (1 Samuel 15:22) It’s not always about working harder, but smarter by letting go and letting God do His part. If we remember that our obedience is what God requires and we leave the rest to Him, then God’s work is less heavy to bear. When we judge “success” by world standards, then the burden becomes heavy as we place all the results upon our shoulders. We pray; God works by doing all the heavy lifting. We obey; God builds our hope and faith in Him—a win-win!
What if God told you, right up front, “Say what I want you to say but people are not going to listen to you, so there’s that…” God told Isaiah that his ministry would end in seeming failure, with the land ruined and the people taken off to exile. But a remnant would survive! It would be like the stump of a fallen tree from which the shoots (“the holy seed”) would come, and they would continue the true faith in the land. Isaiah needed a long-range perspective on his ministry or else he would feel like he was accomplishing nothing.
Jesus said the same to his disciples as he sent them out with what to do when people refused to listen to The Message. “Dust your feet and move on to the next village.” (Matthew 10:14). Our work then, stated specifically by our Master Jesus Christ is, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 NLT
All who believe and follow Jesus are all called to “go and make disciples” who will also believe and follow Jesus, multiplying God’s work to reconcile His People to Him in holy relationship forever! “And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.” 2 Corinthians 5:18 NLT
What a powerful message this is to each one of us today—especially to me. Our work is to obey your call to go where you want and say what you give us to say. We realize we are all called to point the way to You, helping others find, believe, and follow in your ways. “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey”; the hymn of my youth proclaims! Thank you for your assurance today that who we are and what we do is directed by you for your glory and for the work of bring others to you—even if only a few listen and obey with us. The results are up to you. AND you are with us always! It’s doesn’t get any better than that!
In Jesus Name, Amen