Thursday, June 09, 2005

Coal to My Lips

Sunday night I was at Shannon's house celebrating her birthday. (Happy Birthday, Shanny!) She lives out in the middle of nowhere and loves to play intense games of Hide-and-Seek at midnight.

And it was a beautiful night for just that. We feasted on fruits and sandwiches while answering Shannon's game questions. The chilly evening air descended as we gathered around the blazing fire pit. My brother lead the group in singing praises to the King. We finished with "We Fall Down" singing "Holy, Holy, Holy" over and over again.

As I stared into the flames I was overwhelmed with the reality of what Isaiah described in chapter 6 of his writings in the Bible. What a vision he saw...

The Light! My eyes burst open at the intensity of the illumination. I attempted to stand on my feet, but staggered under the force of the besieging energy. I grasped my chest trying to scream. Unbearable pain coursed through my entire being. It was not physical agony. The rays seemed to be dividing my very heart in two. They were searching the depths of my soul and spirit. I felt as if I were being consumed. I squinted against the radiance to see the Source of the magnificence.

Then I saw HIM. There He was. Beauty and majesty cannot begin to describe what I beheld with my eyes. Complete Righteousness. Pure Actuality. His actual characteristics filled the room, flowing from His presence. Unfailing Love. Relentless Grace. Gentle Mercy. Violent Justice. Agonizing Wrath.

The burden of being in the presence of Perfection started weighing heavily on my shoulders. I needed to escape. If I stayed I would die under the influence of Holiness. But I wanted to abide here forever. Never before had I experienced such Love. Then I realized I was surrounded by the richest, deepest scarlet robe. The room was full of the garment. I had never seen a color so alive, so vibrant and warm. The crimson origin was blood; warm blood flowing from the altar at the foot of the throne.

Circling the throne were several creatures. They had six wings. Two wings were covering their face. Two wings covered their feet and with the other two they were flying. Suddenly one began to yell to another with a single word, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY.” The second replied, “Is the LORD Almighty!” Joining together they proclaimed, “The whole earth is full of HIS glory.”

At the sound of their voices the structure trembled and shook. The holy place was filled with smoke. The power of their words drove me to my knees. Yes, this explained everything I had sensed. There was only one word that could express what I was witnessing. And I was terrified to remain in His presence.

What would happen to me? My mouth was heavy, unable to open and join in declaring His holiness. Guilt, shame, filth and the knowledge of my transgressions stared me in the face. I looked to the throne. I gazed upon the I AM. I beheld His power and glory. My heart thundered in my chest. My knees knocked together as I fell in a heap. Quivering, I raised my eyes one last time. Overwhelmed with the reality of my imperfections, I screamed,

"WOE IS ME! I will be destroyed! I am a man that speaks impurity, and I live among a people who speak filth, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

And I lay facedown shaking.

Above me I heard the sound of pulsating wings. I lifted my head slowly. One of the creatures had flown to me. With his hand he grasped massive tongs. In it he held a glowing, red, live coal. It had come from the altar. With it he touched my mouth. The torture! The pain. The creature was speaking, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

Incredible cleansing washed through every fiber of my being. I felt peace. I finally knew joy. The burden was gone. I was free!

The atmosphere began to vibrate again as I heard the voice of the Lord inquiring, "Who will I set free? And who will live and speak for us?"

Gratitude and love poured from my soul. I cried, “Here I am. I will go! I will be set free! I will speak for You!”

And Isaiah did. It is no wonder that he lived the rest of his days declaring the LORD to people in bondage. He had seen the LORD. He heard the angels shouting, “HOLY!” and knew his lips were unclean. He realized his sin. He begged for deliverance. And he was set free. His sin was atoned for. From that day forward his lips were sanctified.

So as I sat staring at the smoldering coals, I was reminded of how unclean my lips are. When I am confronted with God and His holiness, I understand how sinful I truly am!

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” James 3:9-10

Isaiah saw God. The thought of man being made in God’s likeness should change how I speak to people. How would I speak to God? That is how I should speak to others. I would never dare think to speak to God as I have spoken to some people. But how hypocritical am I in my speech? It is no wonder that God does not use me as I long to be used. My mouths need sanctifying. My lips need a scorching from the altar of God.

God, purify my lips. Send me, I will speak for You!

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