The Weekly Word: How will you answer God’s call?
By Pastor Isaac Johnson, New Hope Lutheran Church, Charles City
“And 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.’ ”
— Isaiah 6:8
When you interview for a job, you usually look at the job description first. Once you have a good idea of what the job entails, then you might apply, depending on your current situation.
Imagine if you applied, were offered and accepted a job without knowing what you were going to do? That sounds like madness. That sounds like Isaiah!
In this beautiful and famous passage God calls for someone to do His job. In noble fashion Isaiah cries out “Me! Me!” He gets the job. When we look at this passage in church we often stop here and say something along these lines: “We should all be eager to respond to God’s call like Isaiah,” and so we should.
This is only half the story, however.
Now God gives Isaiah the job description:
“Go, and say to this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand’ … Make the heart of the heart of this people dull … lest they … turn and be healed.’ ”
— Isaiah 6:9-10
Little did Isaiah know when he accepted the job that God was going to use him, in part, to preach God’s wrath and discipline to the people. They had thrown God’s name and glory in the dust over and over again, and it was time for a wakeup call.
Sounds like a rough job, huh?
Now I’d like to say that Isaiah was skipping with excitement, but his former eagerness seems to have cooled off somewhat. Our prophet replies to God: “How long, O Lord?” (v. 11)
People were going to be mad at him. He wasn’t going to be very popular. Some would even hate him for obeying God. The reality of God’s calling and the cross that he was to bear sunk in for Isaiah.
We all have a job from God, a calling, like Isaiah. Just look around. Where do you live? Who are your neighbors? Do you have a spouse, children, grandchildren, close friends? Do you have coworkers? What is God’s will for you and for them according to the Bible?
Now sometimes we have a heads-up with these jobs, and other times they just land in our laps. Still other times we only realize what we signed up for in hindsight, and the going can get tough. Our weakness, fear or desire to be accepted by the world can simply overwhelm us.
Have you ever asked God, along with Isaiah, “How long, O Lord? Surely it can’t be like this forever!”
Well, why did Isaiah stick with God’s calling? Because it was easy? That’s a hard “no.” He stuck with it because of the “holy seed” (v. 13). Isaiah knew that God was using him to prepare the way for the Messiah to come and work the miracle of salvation for Israel and the whole world.
After all, Jesus also had a calling from God the Father, and it wasn’t easy. In fact he carried the sins of the whole world on his shoulders, including your sins; that’s a burden too great for any of us to bear. Yet for the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2).
If you are praying “How long, O Lord”, which is a faithful and Christian prayer, remember that Jesus faced similar and even greater challenges. Remember that he, like a seed, died and rose again so that you might have confidence that your life is safe with God on high. Remember that he is the founder and perfecter of your faith, no matter how beat down you may be today.
May God grant you his Holy Spirit to endure your calling this day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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Selections from Psalm 13
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
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You are warmly invited to Sunday Services at 9 a.m. with Bible study and Sunday School to follow, at New Hope Lutheran Church, 607 N. Main St., Charles City.