by Joni Eareckson Tada
“‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips.’ Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.'”
And I know of no greater sin of mine than my lips. My unholy thoughts, though many, are my private sins that affect only me. My unholy deeds, though heinous, are few and far between.
But my words are many and their damage is public. In a few short sentences, I can cut a baggage handler at the airport down to size for dropping my wheelchair. In a string of vexings and hammerings, I can skewer my husband’s plans for the weekend. In a twisted maze of flatterings, I can manipulate any unsuspecting soul.
Oh, what a burden. To possess such an instrument is more than I can bear at times. But while the reality of my sinful lips depresses me, God corrects me with one important observation: “See, this has touched your lips.”
For Isaiah, it was the burning coal used by God to drive home His point that outside intervention is needed. Through painful imagery of cauterized lips, Isaiah learned an important lesson. His lips were impure, but God touched them and declared them clean.
But that is not the end of it. God desired to use those lips. When asked, “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah had the righteous audacity to say, “Here am I. Send me.”
Lord, purify my words by Your presence in my life. Remove the dross of selfishness and pride from these lips. Make them sing and speak of You all my days.
Taken from Diamonds in the Dust
Copyright © 1993