A Meditation on Isaiah 6, 1 - 11: It is a sign of something that Bernie asked me to write on this passage. Growing up in a home without organized religion, but one that was heavily loaded with the most idealistic expectations, I thought a lot about God and his existence or non-existence.
I was preoccupied with Hell, thinking I was going to wind up there. The idea of a merciful God didn't occur to me until much later. Like all kids I just assumed that God was there. To me God was someone you didn't want to get upset. I was in a difficulty in that one the one hand I knew God was there, but on the other hand, as the son of a physicist, I also knew that he didn't exist. Thus I was sure to end up getting punished whether God was there or not. I had a beautiful Children's Bible with a huge picture of the earth after the flood, with piles of human corpses everywhere. That picture taught me more about God than I wanted to know. Somehow I developed the idea that God was going to send me to someplace like Nineveh, to preach about him, and that I would not be able to go, since, obviously , I didn't believe in him. Whatever I did I was going to disappoint somebody. So I was afraid of ending up like Jonah, trying to hide from an angry God. Later on I grew out of all this when I had some religious experiences in the mountains in California, and I felt I had been touched by a God I could believe in, known to me only as an awareness of the power and wonder and beauty of the natural universe.
Reading Isaiah 6, 1 - 11, now, is a bit like coming around a bend in the trail in the mountains and coming face to face God himself. He is described as an awesome being, huge, glorious, surrounded by chanting angels and the beating of their wings, half-hidden in clouds of smoke. The writer feels completely unworthy until his lips are cleaned with a burning coal. Then he is empowered to say "Send Me" in response to the Lord's demand: "Whom shall I send?" His task is to speak to a people, whose wits are dulled and whose ears are stopped, a people who have forgotten the way of the Lord, and warn them of the doom rushing down upon them.
I hear this passage as a summons to stand up for what I do care about and believe in, even though I'm not sure of anything. I do care about the survival of this little planet, "our island home". I do care about the well - being of neglected and abused children. I can't accept that life has to end in so much pain. I'll have to speak to the Big Guy about that!