Isaiah had a vision.
His vision was of God, in heaven, seated on His throne in unimaginable glory (not to mention the angel-seraphs, whose voices raised in worship to this majestic God literally shook the foundations of the temple where Isaiah stood).
In the Bible, where this vision is recorded, we’re told that Isaiah’s first response to this holy eye-full isn’t what we might have expected. He doesn’t look around and say ‘how cool is THAT?!’ He isn’t in awe of the beauty of heaven or of the powerful six-winged seraphs. Isaiah’s first words in response to what he is seeing are these:
“Woe to me!”
Man sees the living God in all of His splendor, and his first response is WOE?!
“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.” Isaiah 6:5
Isaiah’s words make me wonder what we’re doing when we paint a picture of God as the mighty, all-approachable One. Are we faithfully interpreting God’s Word when we effectively humanize the Father of the Trinity, whose presence is heralded in heaven by the thunderous voices of creatures who shake the foundations of heaven and draw smoke at the sound of their praise?
What if we need to experience WOE in the presence of God, like Isaiah did, before we can be cleansed from our sinfulness and called to a life of ministry among people whose lips and lives are tainted by evil and colored by the world?
Maybe this is why we’re skeptical about those who preach a faith that is reminiscent of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – all ‘awesome’ and ‘righteous’ and ‘DUDE!’ from the word ‘Go!’
I wonder if this is what the church leaders of old were thinking when they designed worship, placing a time of confession early in the service, before the proclamation of the Word?
Perhaps they learned, as Isaiah had, that WOE comes before WHOA in a life that has truly seen the One, True God.
Of course God is WHOA! Amazing! Magnificent! Holy! But until I am WOE, humble, aware of my sinfulness in the presence of God, I’m not in a position to experience His WHOA in life-altering ways.
May your experience of God begin at WOE and emerge as WHOA!
In God’s perfect timing.
With God’s perfect blessing.
Not skipping the hard stuff, but living it out in faithful ways by the power of the God who sits on His throne, exalted in glory.
And by the LOVE of that powerful God for YOU.
- The Discipline of Meditation (cumcconnect.org)