This is the first post by MAG’s cowriter. Look, listen, and take heed. -M
“Here am I. Send me.”
We have all heard these words which came from the mouth of the prophet Isaiah. He spoke thus in response to the call of the Lord, offering himself as the man to bring God’s word to the nations. It was a hard job, and he knew it would be dangerous. By faith he was able to set aside the fear of what dangers might befall him and trust himself to the hands of our Lord. Undoubtedly this was an act of courage and of faith; courage to face all of the many trials to come, and faith that the Lord would give him words to say, and protect him from danger. Can we claim the same courage and Faith? I don’t know about you, but I certainly wonder about myself.
These passages of the Bible that deal with great men of the faith make me feel so inadequate at times. I cannot be so bold as to claim anywhere near the faith that these men had. I feel like a child, no, an infant in light of these Godly men, and yet the Scriptures promise that we, God’s children, shall all be equally glorified in heaven. Have you ever had that strange feeling like you don’t deserve anything near what is promised you in the Bible? I know I do. I feel so miserably inadequate sometimes that I ask God why He even bothers trying to keep up with how often I find myself repenting. It is in these times that I realize that it took more than outward courage and faith to say those self-sacrificing words “Here am I. Send me.” It took inward courage and faith.
They seem the same, but to me the two hold separate meanings. Outward courage, as I would describe it, is courage to face physical and spiritual trial for the sake of God’s work. Outward faith, then, is faith that God will protect, defend, and provide for you. If you hadn’t noticed, that only covers one of two battles that must be fought. It also took inward courage and faith.
I would describe inward courage as the courage to approach a God who you know could squish you like a bug at the moment of His choosing. The courage to present yourself even as a mere servant to the God whom you have so deeply offended that you deserve nothing but hell for eternity. This is a brand of courage that surpasses all reason. Frankly, if you truly have an understanding of the relationship between God and sinful men, you understand that this kind of courage does not exist. There is not an unregenerate man on earth, nor has there ever been who understands his sin against God and what it deserves and still has the courage to approach Him. This is where inward faith comes in.
Knowing that our sins have earned us an eternity of torture and torment we must realize that courage alone will not save us. Left to our own devices we are completely and utterly doomed to hell. We have nothing worthy of salvation in and of ourselves. Inward faith is understanding this. Inward faith is knowing that God should send us to hell. What do we have faith in? We have faith in the work of the only One who could ever cancel our infinite debt. We have faith in the work of Christ. Inward faith, then, is knowing and believing that, through the work of Jesus Christ and His work alone, we are able to stand before God as though we have never sinned. Inward courage, then, can only come as a result of inward faith. This is something that I must daily some to terms with. When I look at my life, it is a wonder why God even bothers to think about me, let alone forgive me and allow me into His presence. Yet, despite all my self-doubt, it is true.
In order to be able to offer yourself to God as Isaiah did, then, you must understand two things. Rather, you must believe two things. First, you must believe that you have been justified through the work of Christ, and are therefore worthy to come into the presence of God by His work alone. Second, you must believe that God will strengthen, sustain, defend, and provide for you while you are in His service. Only after you have come to terms with these truths will you be able in body, mind, and spirit to offer yourself as a living sacrifice to the one who gave His perfect life for your unworthy life.
Note that I said you must believe these things. Believing, for me, is often the hardest part. For all the doubt that I have struggled with in my life, there has never been a time that I have doubted my own unworthiness. Even though I have been raised learning that Christ paid the penalty for all of my sins and that I can never do anything that God cannot forgive, it is still hard to accept that all of the vile, rotten, sinful, wicked things I have done against God and my fellow-man are washed “as white as snow.” After all, if I were God, I wouldn’t forgive me. Well for all of you readers out there who can relate to anything I have just said, I have some news for you:
YOU ARE NOT GOD.
In fact, the thought that you wouldn’t forgive yourself is proof of that. God is far more merciful than you or I can even imagine. Through the blood of Christ your sins (yes, even that sin that no one else knows about and you will never forgive yourself for) are all cast as far from God as the east is from the west. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a really long way. It is God’s way of telling you that you need to stop kicking yourself for sins of the past, and look into brightening your future walk with Him. Any sin that you have committed, or ever will commit is paid for, and you, my friend, are debt free.
If you have read and believe all of the above, then give me one good excuse why you should not be crying out as Isaiah did. What is stopping you? I understand completely if you are afraid that you will fail God. I have been there myself, but understand that this a sinful mentality! Not only are you ignoring the fact that you have already been justified before God, but you are belittling the power of the blood of Christ to sanctify if you continually call yourself “unworthy!” Brothers, sisters, children of the living God: there is a fine line between humility and cowardice when it comes to serving God’s kingdom. If you repeatedly neglect His call to service claiming unworthiness you call Christs blood a vain sacrifice, and you are a coward. Isaiah was just as human as you and I, but he had understanding. He understood what it meant to have both inward and outward courage and faith, and he understood what it meant to give his life as a living sacrifice. God never demands perfection. He requires men who humbly present themselves as weak vessels made strong only in the work of the God to whom they owe their very souls anyway. It is time we stopped wallowing in our regret and self-pity, and started rejoicing in the salvation that has already been won for us. One day we will be rid of this sinful nature we so passionately despise, and will rejoice in all that Christ did through us. What a privilege to be the hands and feet of our living savior; let us not squander what little time we have, but use it to glorify God, and to fully enjoy Him forever.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” –Rom. 3:23-24
“Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” –Psalms 32:1-2
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” –Gal. 2:20