Blinding Glory, Truer Sight

Maddie, blinded by the sunlight from behind me, holding up a dirt clod she found in the shape of a heart.

One morning last week I ran early enough that the sun barely peeked over the horizon. I headed south and felt the warmth rise to my shoulders. Then I turned east. The sun shone through a clump of trees ahead of me. I blinked a little at the sudden light, just at eye level. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, there was a break in the tree branches, and the rays hit me full on. I had to close my eyes against them, but they still pierced through my lids. For a moment I was blinded to everything but the glow.

Later that week I listened to the entire book of Revelation at one sitting (we were driving to Kansas for a wedding) and then today I finally got through the bulk of Job and listened to the final chapters, where God speaks.

The audio version of Revelation was, though word-for-word, read by various actors and accompanied by stirring music. My heart thumped, as if I were listening to Lord of the Rings. My mind pictured the woman and the dragon, the angels and elders round the throne, the Lamb slain, and the Warrior triumphant. For an hour and a half I lost sight of the details of my life and was blinded by the glory of the Magnificent and His story.

And today, as I listened to Job, I found myself silenced, just as he was. When he said, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know,” I echoed it. Job saw the smallness of his own complaints and of himself; he saw a bit of the BIG picture, and I caught a glimpse of it, too.

A.W. Tozer says that the most important thing about a person is how he or she sees God. My view of God needs to be expanded to accept His blinding attributes as well as His more, well, comfortable ones. The Lamb that was slain is also the snow-white haired, blazing-faced God-man with a sword in His mouth. Job repented “in dust and ashes” before this God; Isaiah knew his unworthiness so well he said he was “lost”; and John fell at his feet as “though dead.”

This kind of knowledge is not comfortable or easy. But it is good. Job, Isaiah, and John went on to live with a greater knowledge of God, and they anticipated an eternity of being fully aware of and fully satisfied in this blinding Glory.

From Blinding Glory to Truer sight.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”

Grovel or Go? Lessons from Isaiah

Yes, PJ IS standing in an open car window--at least it wasn't in motion! I'm amazed--and grateful--that we've only had ONE trip to the emergency room with our little daredevil. I'm sure it won't be the last.

Too often I tell God what I want Him to do with me and for me. I guess there’s an acknowledgement of weakness in these kinds of prayers—I am, after all, admitting that I can’t make these things happen—but there is also a sense of pride. I may not have the strength to carry this out, but I know what the best course of action is.

Today I discovered I even tell God what to do in regard to my sin. This morning I prayed, “Lord, reveal my sin to me. Help me to know the ways I am straying from you.”

I’m not knocking this kind of prayer, and I’m trusting that the Holy Spirit interprets it for me, but as I studied a passage in Isaiah today, I realized that this prayer is based on a lot of ignorance. If God really DID show me the depths of my sinfulness, I would be crushed, as Isaiah was when he was in the presence of God. Overwhelmed, his only understanding in that moment was of his own dirtiness in the presence of the completely clean and holy God. “Woe is me! For I am lost;” he said, “for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Regarding this passage, R.C. Sproul comments that this is a rare occurrence: God does not often crush us with a full picture of our sinfulness. Instead He reveals it bit by bit, in His own time and plan, as it is necessary and good for us.

That leads me to examine the motives behind my “Show me my sins” prayers. Am I asking, perhaps, out of a heart that still hopes to do penance, to somehow pay for my own sins, to show that I am truly sorry for them, and in this sorrow, to gain some acceptance?

Again, Isaiah’s example helps me. Isaiah was not asked to do penance for his sinfulness. Instead GOD sent an angel with a burning coal to purify Isaiah.

He did the same for me, with the death of Christ. I cannot accomplish my own purification, and therefore, He doesn’t ask me to. He did and does that Himself.

“…your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Even knowing this, KNOWING that Christ paid for my sin, I have a tendency to grovel in it. I mistakenly think this is true sorrow, when it is really self-serving.

But that’s also not what Isaiah did. After God pronounced him clean, God immediately asked if Isaiah was ready to go to work. “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”

And Isaiah didn’t respond as I often do. “Hold on, Lord, I’m still processing how awful I am. I’m still overwhelmed with what I did (or said or thought).”

No, Isaiah IMMEDIATELY answers, “Here am I! Send me.”

This is not only a statement of willingness but of confidence. Sproul writes that if Isaiah had said “Here I am,” he would merely have been making a statement of readiness, but the inverted structure—“Here AM I!“—speaks of Isaiah’s new view of himself. The Lord had taken him through an understanding of Isaiah’s own unworthiness and the Lord’s grace, and Isaiah came out of that with a new sense of self-worth as a creation and servant of God.

Wow!

“Lord, I am Yours. Reveal to me what you want me to know, not so I can grovel but so that You may direct me in the ways You want me to go. Bottom line, Lord, here am I, Your creation, purified, qualified, and commissioned. Do Your will, Your best, with me.”

Time of Need

This morning I apologized to God. “Oh, Lord, I’m sorry, but I need You again. That’s all I do, just need You, need You, need You. I never have it all together.”

And then I laughed.

Because I really was serious when I said it, but then God allowed me to see the absolute absurdity of my statement.

What, exactly, could I provide for God?

What do I have besides my very neediness?

When I think I have something—anything—I’m delusional. I belong in the spiritual nuthouse.

How interesting that I am most sane when I am at my most needy, when I see that I am a complete mess. And I am most INsane when I feel like I have some control, like I have things together.

The prophet Isaiah, when he was transported to heaven, said, “I am undone.” In the presence of the holy, holy God, Isaiah recognized his own true state of inability and lack. Our self-help culture would say this is an unhealthy mental state, that Isaiah needs to buck up, pull it together, and think positively. And yet God orchestrated this. He wanted Isaiah to feel (as other translations say it) “ruined.” It was only after this that He led Isaiah into a bold, powerful ministry. Isaiah’s un-doing allowed him to see that his source of strength really was God, that Isaiah was powerless on his own.

I want to see—more frequently and more deeply—the holy God.

These true visions will undo me, they will ruin me; but this holy God is also merciful. He tells me to call on Him in time of need.

And my “time of need” is ALL the time.