When Isaiah encountered God in all His glorious splendor, he also met himself. Just as he saw the Lord clearly, so he saw himself accurately. His words sum up his condition:
Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. (Isa. 6:5)
Isaiah might have included every part of himself in his assessment of uncleanness. However, the Spirit was convicting him about his lips, because right then it was his lips that God wanted.
Why would anyone desire an encounter with God if His presence left us writhing in shame? No doubt we all know people who have distanced themselves from God because they felt hopelessly unworthy. Yet shame and unworthiness are not God’s doing. Satan plays on our insecurities and low self-esteem to block us from the full impact of God’s presence. Don’t allow a fear of what God will do to inhibit you from pursuing Him, Isaiah didn’t.
As soon as Isaiah admitted his true condition, he went to the next step in his relationship with God. Isaiah tells us later that God meets the humble and contrite (Ps 51:17, Is 57:15). In that meeting, He purifies and transforms.
Isaiah recounts that, “one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.’” (Isa. 6:6-7)
Isaiah expected woe but received forgiveness. As we approach God’s throne something far more powerful touches every part of us. Jesus’ blood removes our sin. His completed cleansing work gives us a new start and prepares us to embark on a new life in God’s service.
When worship is good, we see ourselves as we really are and we are transformed by His love.