“In the year that King Uzziah died, I also saw the Lord. . .” (Isaiah 1:1)
Every year at the end of the year, I ask the Lord to share His heart with mine so that my prayers, my desires, and my passions align with His. Just before Christmas, 2017, I was in my daily Bible reading coming to Isaiah chapter 6, a longtime favorite of mine. I stopped at the first verse. It spoke to me of the many “Uzziah’s” in our lives—”kings” that die.
There are many deaths that we in our lifetime, will experience.
There is the death of a relationship, the death of trust, the death of a dream, the death of a loved one, the death of an unhealthy attachment, the death of reputation, of self-image. Each death that is permitted into our life by the Lord, must inevitably include, if we allow it, “… I also saw the Lord…”
In the year that _______ died, I also saw the Lord.
With each experience of the tearing away of something or someone dear to us, a piece of us also dies, but even with that death—the death of little pieces of self—the purpose is to see the Lord. To see Him enthroned in the temple, high and lifted up, His robe filling the temple, multitudes of angels surrounding Him crying out Kadosh! Kadosh! Kadosh! (Holy! Holy! Holy!)
Each of these experiences of death inevitably leaves us wounded—scarred—yet never alone.
It is to move closer to the vision of the Lord, high and lifted up—high above the emotional attachments that we hold so dear in this temporal place. It is to say with Paul,
“Yet indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).
Every Godly person who has passed through these many deaths throughout the ages has left behind this same testimony—I also saw the Lord. Like a sweet aroma upon the altar of incense that burns continually before the throne of God, they leave behind some mysterious and precious jewel of wisdom which travels down to us through each age, each season.
Amy Carmichael writes of this as she suffered the loss of everything in her life, including her health. She writes:
“One day, in this woman’s hearing, something was said to a younger helper which almost drew from her a flashing, angry remark. But at that moment, a word was spoken to her inwardly: ‘See in this, a chance to die.”
And though spoken inwardly, it was far more clearly heard than many a word addressed to the outward ear.
‘See in this’—this provoking, this rebuke that should not have been—‘a chance to die.’ To self, and the pride that comes from defending self.
‘See in anything’—anything that rouses you to claim your “rights,’ or even to consider them at all—“a chance to die” . . . .
Welcome anything that calls you to your only true position: “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Galations 2:20).
A crucified life cannot be self-assertive. It cannot protect itself. It cannot be startled into resentful words. The cup that is full of sweet water cannot spill bitter-tasting drops, however sharply it is knocked.” (Hazard, David. You Are My Hiding Place. 1991. Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN)
Offense in our culture today reigns supreme—everyone is offended, everyone is a victim. We are all so prickly. As someone said to me recently, if Jesus is not offended by something, then neither should I be.
My prayer for this New Year is, in a culture that is now defined by Offense, I will be transformed in my soul to see in all of it, a chance to die. I have a ways to go—as evidenced by the many ways I can be offended and resort to a flashing response before I see in it a chance to die. But this year, I am inviting Jesus to be my first response, as my “self” moves behind Him, and my life becomes what He tells me is “hidden with Christ in God…”
“…for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).