Monday, January 19, 2009

Who Can Be Sent?

Monday Manna
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
"Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?"
Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."
(Isa 6:8)

What a glorious chapter Isaiah 6 is! Can you imagine Isaiah's frustration with trying to boil Photo of the Book of Isaiah page of the BibleImage via Wikipediadown that awesome experience into a few words? Moved by the Spirit, he said exactly what he was supposed to say, but he was limited by the finiteness of language. I'm sure he wished there were some way to explain the glory, the awe, the terror, the majesty. But the Spirit led him to write what he wrote, and so we do well to examine what God felt was important enough to tell us.

He tells us many things in this chapter, but one of the most important is the answer to our title question.

Who can be sent?

I didn't ask, "Who can go?" "Going" is simply a matter of deciding on a direction and heading that way. Anyone can do that.

Not just anyone can be sent.

So who can be sent by Almighty God?

First and foremost, it must be someone who has had a genuine, miraculous encounter with the Holy One. Isaiah certainly did (Isa. 6:1-5). So did Moses (Ex. 3:2-4), and so did Paul (Acts 9:3-6). Before God sent them, He showed them Himself.

"But wait," you may protest. "Are you saying I can't be sent by God without a miraculous encounter like that?"

Well yes, and no. You can't be sent without a miraculous encounter. But it doesn't have to be "like that."

It can't be said often enough. Salvation is a miraculous encounter with God. It is more than just a miraculous encounter (for example, Balaam had miraculous encounters without ever being saved), but it cannot be less than that.

You probably didn't see God face-to-face when you were first saved, but the eyes of your heart were miraculously opened to see Him as never before. You probably didn't feel the pillars of the temple shake, but something in your soul trembled at His presence. You probably were not struck with physical blindness, but you must have been struck with how spiritually blind you had been before He gave you sight. You who were spiritually dead felt life coursing into the veins of your soul when you first met Him and were saved by Him. You were made new. That's nothing short of a miracle. Without such a miraculous rebirth, there is no salvation.

Christendom is full of false prophets who come in His Name, who make the best-seller lists, get their own TV shows, and rub elbows with the world's political elite...but whom He never sent (Jer. 14:14).

Who can be sent? Those who have had a miraculous encounter with God, and who have been devastated by an awareness of their own sin (Isa. 6:5). Dear discouraged brother or sister, do you feel that your sin disqualifies you from service? If you are one who is growing to hate your sin, growing to love God, growing in holiness, then you most certainly can be sent. There are only three kinds of awareness of sin, you know.
  • Minimizing how evil it is and cherishing it
  • Relishing how evil it is and cherishing it
  • Understanding how evil it is and hating it.
Only a miraculous, saving encounter with God can produce the third option. Those who see their sin for what it is and repent of it can be sent...even though they still are imperfect. They just keep hating their sin, and keep repenting of it as they go. But there's more to this "sending" than that.

Who can be sent? Those who have a miraculous encounter with God, who are devastated by their sinfulness, and who are cleansed by Him (Isa. 6:6-7).

We aren't cleansed by "forgiving ourselves for our own mistakes." When I find a dirty cup, and my child needs a drink, I cleanse that cup thoroughly before sending it on its drink-giving errand. I don't trust it to clean itself.

God, through Christ, does the same with His chosen vessels. No, he doesn't generally use burning coals. Such symbolism has its place, but it's nothing more than a metaphor for what has to happen within. Our God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29), and He refines us as in a furnace, purifying us for His glory (Isa. 48:10-11).

Lastly, those who can be sent are those who present themselves with no strings attached. To be sent is to go because of the command or bidding of someone else. It is not self-directed. It's not based on mood or personal desire (though mood and desire may agree wholeheartedly in many cases). Isaiah offered himself in Isa. 6:8, but didn't learn the difficult and painful nature of his mission until Isa. 6:9-10, or how long his service would last until Isa. 6:11.
Those who only want to "go"
will come to God with their own agendas
and expect His blessing.

Those who want to be sent
leave their agendas behind
and actually receive His blessing.
Have you experienced His miraculous saving work? Do you know what it is to be devastated by your sinfulness and overwhelmed by His forgiving grace? Do you hate sin and repent of it with loathing? Has He cleansed you so that you're new (though still not perfected)? Are you committed to serving Him on His agenda rather than your own?

Then, with Isaiah you may say, "Here am I, send me."
  • Not because of any self-confidence, or your ability to make yourself popular with the masses. The false prophets have plenty of that (Luke 6:26).
  • Not because of your qualifications. God chooses foolish, despicable nothings to do His work (1 Cor. 1:26-29).
  • Not because of your achievements, but because of His purpose and His grace which He has given to us (2 Tim. 1:9).
  • Not because of your plans for being used. Remember Moses' plan for serving God and freeing His people? He thought he'd do it by murdering Egyptians who mistreated Jews. God had much more supernatural plans for him than that.

It is purely God's work in you which makes you usable.

You may object, "I'm saved, but I've never been sent anywhere."

Haven't you? Whom did God send to your workplace this morning in your shoes?

It isn't only the flashy, history-making assignments which come from God. If you walk by the Spirit of God, does He not send you? Whether you "feel sent" or not, every task that your hand finds to do is one that He sent you to do. Living in the light of that truth is how we obey the commands in Col. 3:17 and Col. 3:23-24.

It's easy for me to raise my hand and say, "Send me!" when He asks for someone to write for Him. I'm grateful to have a tiny corner of the blogosphere in which I can be used for His glory. But it's not so easy to walk into a piled-high laundry room with a "send me" attitude. It's not so easy to approach the kitchen saying, "Here am I, Lord. Your servant."

I guess I need more of that awesome reverence for God, more hatred for sin, more cleansing from Him, more abandonment of my own agendas in favor of His. I'm guessing maybe some of you do, too.

Oh Father, grant us the fear of the Lord as You promised in Jer. 32:40. Grant us repentance (2 Tim. 2:25) and a holy hatred for sin. Cleanse us and make us fit for Your use, enabling us to gratefully accept whatever roles you give us. Then, no matter how unqualified we are in our flesh, we will still be able to say, "Here am I, send me!"

This week's Monday Manna is being hosted by Joanne Sher at "An Open Book." Please drop by there to see more insights on this passage


Mary Moss said...

Who can be sent? Those who have had a miraculous encounter with God, and who have been devastated by an awareness of their own sin.

Betsy, this is so very profound. That devastation is unmistakable. I experience it from time to time in my journey. Like being born again, it's not an event but a process.

You have done an incredible job with this chapter. Isaiah is one of my favorite books and I return to it often.

LauraLee Shaw said...

"It's easy for me to raise my hand and say, "Send me!" when He asks for someone to write for Him. I'm grateful to have a tiny corner of the blogosphere in which I can be used for His glory. But it's not so easy to walk into a piled-high laundry room with a "send me" attitude. It's not so easy to approach the kitchen saying, "Here am I, Lord. Your servant."

Me too!!! Some great insights as usual, Betsy!

karin said...

Hubby and I are just going through Isaiah again. Thank you for being willing to be 'sent' to minister to your readers in this powerful way. And at the same time it seems He has sent those words just for you. I love when the Lord does that. Usually what I write or insights I gain through conversation, are meant for both the speaker and the listener. Oh, that I may obey! You've blessed and encouraged me today.

Joanne Sher said...

Incredible insights here, and so, SO much to learn. Excellent, Betsy. Thanks so much for sharing.

Sherri Ward said...

Betsy, you are a gifted teacher! I completely agree - less of my agenda, more of His, and ever-thankful for His patience!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I have a complete and holy awareness of my sin and just how far my Father has traveled on my behalf to rescue me from myself. My holiness is a daily process and one that I am intent on making. I'm coming to peace with my past, but that only in recent years. As to the agenda...

that's my hang up everytime. What I think I need to be doing doesn't always match up with what God wants me to be doing. Like you, the laundry and such is my usual portion, and my flesh wishes it was more.

Thanks for such a thought-provoking post, per usual. You're a wonderful teacher, and I know that you must put a great deal of thought, prayer, and study into each of your posts. You're making a difference, friend. Beyond the laundry. Keep to it.


Patty Wysong said...

I'm so with you on the kitchen and laundry! (and the school books! yikes!) But those are the areas that I need to submit and say yes, Lord, send me to those areas of my life, too.

So good, Betsy! Thanks!

Yvonne said...

Thanks, Betsy... I think that so often we don't see sin as God does. We wouldn't have any trouble with pride or selfishness, or with letting God have control of our lives, if we saw the wickedness of our hearts.

I enjoy reading your devotionals.

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