I have a friend who has decided to become a new man. I see him regularly at my workout place (Zach's) and have for the past couple of months, and we have said hello to one another. I finally decided to ask him one day about working out (see, he wasn't really known for working out before, he was known for....well, raising heck - that's the devotional way to put it). He was great at raising heck. Much as they say about any profession, there is a science and an art to it, and this guy had them down.
So when I asked, he looked right at me and said, "I gave up the booze and stuff and have committed to eating right and have committed to working out every day. Have been clean the past three months." Good for you, I said. It's showing, I continued, starting to gain some muscle mass. Keep up the good work.
I wonder what his "cathartic" event was? What made him decide it was time? He's not married, so not the mrs saying take your foolish ways and go. No children to say, "Dad, quit embarrassing us." Something convinced him and made him decide to move forward in life.
Isaiah's cathartic event was probably hours of God, in a vision, telling him the of the faithlessness of Israel. It takes up the first five chapters of Isaiah. God is fairly blunt and leaves no room for escape. Finally, Isaiah sees God on His throne surrounded by angels (seraphs), and Isaiah confesses his uncleanliness, "Woe to me! 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!" (6:5)
Isaiah, the prophet to come, hears God's words and confesses his conviction, and God hears his call. "Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it, he touched my mouth and said, 'See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." (6:6-7) A sacramental act combining a physical means with the Word of God to deliver forgiveness and renewal. God then asks the broad question, "Whom shall I send?" to which Isaiah answers, "Here I am! Send me!" (6:8)
What prompts us to change? What convicts us? U2 notes in a song, "If you want to kiss the sky better learn how to kneel." When do we, somewhat like my friend, look at God and say, "Thy will be done" and mean it? All of us are as guilty as Israel, and God provides that same forgiveness he gave Isaiah through our sacraments (baptism and communion) where visible elements of water or bread and wine (body and blood) combine with the words of Christ to cleanse our hearts and minds.
As we approach God's altar, do we approach on bended knee? Do we truly seek the will of God? And do we then, as we are forgiven and are renewed, turn to Christ and say, "Send me! Thy will be done!"? As Isaiah famously states later, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." We pray for his strength daily and go to him humble, on bent knee, as we confess to him and seek his forgiveness and renewal.
Hope Men's Ministry