My son, on his way out the door, just said to me: "It is amazing how much harder I work for a teacher I like!"
It is a few days before the first quarter report card. I can't help wondering what he is preparing me for. Exactly how many of his teachers does he like this year?
I know where he is coming from; I had a very similar experience in my bible study: "It is amazing how much harder I work for a God I know is holy!" At first glance this is not an earth shattering epiphany, I admit, but it shook me enough to stand a little straighter for my God.
We are bravely tackling a study of Isaiah. You can't study Isaiah and not stumble over the word "holy". No matter where you turn, there he is telling you of God's holiness. Don't get me wrong, I never questioned God's holiness; it just seemed self-explanatory and never ranked all that highly on my scale compared to His love, righteousness, sovereignty and promise of eternal life.
Clearly, I have never stood before the throne of the Almighty! Isaiah, on the other hand, had been there, and this is what he reported: "I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flies. And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!"" (Isaiah 6:1-5 NKJ).
Isaiah recognized the holiness of God, and not a second later did he recognize his own sin and failures. "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips." (Isaiah 6:5 NKJ). Obviously, all excuses along the lines of "I may not be perfect, but there are others who are worse" fade away when you are looking at the perfection of the living God!
Next, one of the angels touched Isaiah's mouth and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged." (Isaiah 6:7 NKJ).
And God looked at His humble and forgiven servant and said to Himself: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" (Isaiah 6:8 NKJ). And wouldn't you know, out of Isaiah, full of energy and faith, burst the words: "Here am I! SEND ME!!! (Isaiah 6:8 NKJ). God didn't even have to ask him directly, no order was necessary. A simple "I wonder who would do this for Me?" was enough for Isaiah to jump at the chance to serve his God.
Now my seemingly simple statement of "It is amazing how much harder I work for a holy God" appears a little deeper, doesn't it? So deep, in fact, that I can honestly and without drama say that it has changed my walk in faith. God is holy. Nothing else is, least of all me. My sin is staring me in the face as I am beginning to understand the holiness of God. It forces me on my knees begging for His forgiveness. And only now am I truly ready to do God's work. "SEND ME" has never come quite so easily.
Appreciation of God's holiness has to be the first step. Without it, my faith will be lip-service, shallow and empty. I will never see my own sin for what it truly is. God cannot use me until I have asked to be forgiven. To serve a BIG GOD in a BIG WAY, I have to stand in awe of His holiness... there is no other way!
Isaiah used the word "holy" countless times in his book; I came close to 20 in one short blog. That is not because we are bad writers, Isaiah and I, it is simply that there is no other word to use. There is no synonym for "holy". It is that exclusive.
Thank you for your patience as I am slowly discovering one truth after the other. Thank you for fellowship and bible studies; without others to teach me, my discoveries would be few and far in between. I have always loved you, Lord, but now I stand in awe of you. My faith is growing up; use me in a grown-up way!