Isaiah recalls in chapter 6 of his book the exact moment that God called him. He says, “I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me” (verse 8). Now, this seems odd to us, because Isaiah didn’t ask a few very important questions. Where is he being sent? Why is he being sent? How will he get there?
It becomes clearer once we look at the events directly before Isaiah’s call. Isaiah explains, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. … And I said, ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; 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!’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for’” (verses 1, 5-7).
When Isaiah accepted God’s call, he was reacting to the incredible feeling of sins being lifted away. He had been forgiven. We have experienced this as well – not through a burning coal, but through the waters of baptism. Because of our baptisms, because we have been given the Holy Spirit, we can “ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name” (Psalm 29:2). We can recognize the voice of the Lord that the Psalmist describes in Psalm 29, the voice that is powerful, majestic, and life-changing.
And because we have experienced forgiveness and the Holy Spirit, because we can recognize what is God’s voice and what isn’t, we can help others. We can point to something in someone’s life and say, “That’s the Spirit. The Spirit gives life, hope, and purpose.” And in the same manner, we can say, “That’s not the Spirit. The Spirit doesn’t give death, despair, or worthlessness.”
Like Isaiah, we are being sent. We may not understand where, or why, or how, but we can be assured of our Sender. We can also be assured that others may look to us for guidance through the Spirit.