Summary: God may not be asking you to change your occupation, but he wants to be sure you understand your vocation.
Last Wednesday a man in his late 30s called to talk about changing his career. He is a devout Christian, strongly committed to his family, and very active in his church. A couple of years ago he spoke with his pastor about it, but he didn’t feel the urgency then that he feels now. He is experiencing what might be called a holy unrest. He has become more and more involved in the life and work of his church. He has found that the job he trained for and worked successfully in no longer has the luster it had at the beginning. Not only that, the company he is working for may be on the skids. So, he is considering options for the future.
We discussed options he has thought about and why they would or would not work for him. He knows he has to consider his family, location, his educational background, etc. He is considering a field that would involve more training, maybe even seminary and he wanted to know what I thought. More and more people are completing degrees later in life. Some of you know that I completed my Ph.D. when I was in my 40s.
Of course, this man is also asking what God wants of him, but as we all know, it is not always easy to discern. He asked if I have read Oswald Chambers who asks the question “Are you waiting or are you pushing?” This man could push if he decided to. In his management position he has learned how to do that. But he realizes that with God there is value in waiting.
Life’s crises and conundrums can provide significant openings for God to get through to us. In his book Seeing the Invisible, A.B. Simpson wrote, "So faith begins where human hopes and prospects end, and man’s extremity is God’s opportunity."
You may be at a crossroads in your life. You may be stuck in a situation with no obvious way out. It is beyond your control. Be assured that God knows who you are and where you are. He has direction for you. He may not be asking you to change your occupation, but he wants to be sure you understand your vocation. And you have begun at the right place by coming into God’s presence here today.
Our Bible passage helps us to see that in a crisis God can reveal things to us that we never thought likely.
• God can help us see who he is.
• He can help us see who we are.
• He can help us see what he wants us to do.
And Isaiah, the writer of our scripture passage today, was facing a crisis.
This is our second message from Isaiah, the 23rd book in the Old Testament. Last Sunday, from Isaiah 1, we heard that the only course of action for a nation that forgets God is to repent. (1:16,17).
A. Who God is. The very first line of Chapter 6 identifies the crisis Isaiah is up against. Something happened that changed his entire life. The King died. King Uzziah had been king for over 50 years. He had been a good king. We read that "as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper." We know that he expanded trade with other countries. People experienced more prosperity than anyone could remember. He had improved the infrastructure of Judah by building towers, digging cisterns, and supporting agriculture. Here was security. Here was prosperity. This was the only king Isaiah had known. And for Isaiah, a 20-year-old, the future looked secure.
Unfortunately, in the last years of King Uzziah’s life, success and prosperity got to him; he rebelled against God, was smitten with leprosy, and he died. Suddenly, Isaiah’s hopes for a secure life were dashed. He thought the future was bright; but now it was uncertain. He was shocked and disoriented at the death of his king.
For some people 9-11 was like that. In a moment of time, the world changed. It was no longer stable. A clear sky didn’t necessarily mean a nice day.
If you go back to 1963 you get to the assassination of Pres. Kennedy. Sue and I had been in Japan only a few months, teaching English. On the night of JFK’s death, students from the college where I taught rang our doorbell and told us how sorry they were that our president had died. People around the world had great hopes in this 46-year-old president. He had inspired people with the words, "Ask not what your country can do for you; rather, ask what you can do for your country." Jim Bishop in The Day Kennedy was Shot wrote "He had been a fair prince indeed, bringing youth and sophistication and an air of confidence to the throne." When he died, many could not believe it. Russian president Kruschev broke down and wept when he heard it. He wandered around his office for a week like he was in a daze. Who would the world look to for leadership? His death was hard to accept.