So I must admit I had no idea what to write for my Musings this week. No idea had popped into my head over the past few days and I had nothing. (This is not fully true. I have plenty of thoughts on Star Wars, Bacon, and Football, but didn’t want to go to that well AGAIN). So I went ahead and did something I have done before: I randomnly opened my Bible and wahtever I saw on those two pages, I would write about. Today my Bible opened to Isaiah chapter six, one of my favorites. Here is what it said:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke.
5And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 6Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”
I love in that last verse as the Lord asks a question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Who indeed! Who will go to proclaim the word of the Lord? Who will go to serve the poor, comfort the grieving, welcome the stranger, lift up the orphan and the widow? Who will go to spread hope and love, to proclaim the saving grace of Jesus Christ? Who will embrace a child and share God’s love with them? Who will remember people in prayer? Who will give of their financial blessings to further the ministry of the church or to do something as simple as allow the church to pay its mortgage payment? Who will be an ambassador for Christ in word and deed? Who?
When we see that question posed, I bet our initial reaction is this: not me. Maybe that one over there or that person over there. But not me. We often know the needs and we hear the call. But our answer is rarely, “Yes. I’ll go.” We rarely answer as Isaiah did. We don’t answer God’s call not because we can’t or we don’t have the means or the gifts or the talents or the time or anything else. I believe we answer “no” or pass the buck because we are afraid. We are afraid to live out our faith. We live in fear of what we don’t have instead of what we do have and what we have been given. We live in fear of being judged or ridiculed and so it is safe to do nothing or wait for someone else to do it than for us to do it.
Fear is a powerful motivator and too often that motivation stops us from answering God’s call. Fear paralyzes us. Fear makes us apathetic. Fear makes us not take responsibility to the ministry that we have been entrusted. Fear stops us from answering God’s call. There is fear here in this reading from Isaiah before he finally answers. Fear made me question my call to become a pastor for a long time too.
God knows this. In the Bible, the phrase “Do not be afraid” appears 59 times and the phrase “Do not fear” appears 43 times. That is over 100 times! And we don’t need to fear because God promises to be with us. God promises to take away our fear and help us. We do not need to fear because the Lord is with us.
As we begin our Lenten journey, ponder the question God asks: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Think about how you will answer that question and who you might answer that question differently than you have been. Remember that you do not have to be afraid, because the Lord is with you.”