Here Am I, Send Me!

The prophet Isaiah discovered for himself the transforming nature of the Lord’s fire. Here is his description of the divine “close encounter” that changed him forever:

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”
And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said,
“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.”
Then 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.”
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Isaiah’s vision of the Lord in all His glory threw him into dread and despair because in that moment he recognized his own sinfulness and wickedness. He expected at any second to be struck dead by the holiness of the Almighty. Instead, Isaiah learned the love, grace, and mercy of God in a new and deeper way than ever before.

What changed Isaiah’s life was the touch of the “burning coal” from the Lord’s altar. Notice that the fire of the Lord touched Isaiah at the exact point of his confession. After he said, “I am a man of unclean lips,” the burning coal was applied to his lips. In that instant, Isaiah’s iniquity was taken away and his sin forgiven. His “unclean lips” were transformed into God-anointed lips for speaking the Word of the Lord.

The lips are among the most sensitive parts of the human body. Try to imagine for a moment the pain of having your lips seared with a red-hot coal! So often, the Lord’s touch in our lives is painful, but in the pain there is healing. Isaiah needed the touch of the burning coal of God’s fire to cauterize the wounds of his sin and his broken spirit.

That’s why confession is such an important part of our walk with the Lord, particularly if we wish to pursue the intimate journey. We need God to take the burning coal of His love and touch us at every point of our brokenness, and in so doing, transform us into flame-tempered vessels prepared to carry His fire.

Isaiah left the temple that day a changed man. Like a log consigned to the flames, he was to his dying day consumed by the fire of the Lord, calling God’s people to repent and return to Him.

“Were Not Our Hearts Burning Within Us…?”

One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is the 24th chapter of Luke. In many ways, this chapter has guided much of my walk with the Lord over the last 25 years. What has particularly captured my attention all those years is the account Luke relates of two disciples who meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus. It is late on the day of His resurrection.

And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.

As these two disciples make their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus, they discuss the unbelievable events of that weekend: the crucifixion, death, and burial of their Master, Jesus, and the reports from some of His resurrection. Before long, the risen Jesus Himself joins them on the road, but for some reason they do not recognize Him. When Jesus asks them what they have been talking about, they relate to Him everything that has happened and all that they have heard. Apparently, there is doubt in their hearts about it all, because Jesus rebukes them for their slowness to believe.

Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”

Without identifying Himself, Jesus explained to the two disciples all that the Scriptures said concerning Him. By the time the three of them reached Emmaus, it was getting late. Jesus “acted as though He were going farther,” but in the hospitality of the day the two disciples invited Him to stay with them for the night. Isn’t that just the way the Lord works? Sometimes it seems as though He is standing still, waiting for us to join Him. At other times, He acts as though He is going on, just to see if we will capture Him and take hold of Him.

During dinner, Jesus blessed the bread and broke it, and it was in that familiar act of communion and fellowship that their eyes were opened and they recognized Him. As soon as they knew who He was, He vanished from their sight. Notice what the two disciples said to each other. “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” Their hearts burned within as Jesus unfolded to them prophetic revelation concerning Himself from the Word of God.

When Jesus vanished, where did He go? I think I have an idea. The reason their hearts were burning was because Someone was taking up residence within them. Their hearts burned within because the Spirit of revelation opened their eyes to understand the Scriptures. With their spiritual eyes open, they then knew Him in the breaking of the bread. What this is saying is that they met Him in communion. When He vanished from their sight, they were left with the fire of God—living coals of fire—in their hearts.

We Are Called to Be Carriers of the Fire

The Lord has called us to be carriers of His fire—His presence. Paul said that the great mystery of the ages is Christ in us, the hope of glory. There can be no greater manifestation of the Spirit than Christ living His life in and through us.

As Brother Lawrence said, we need to practice the presence of God daily. We should never try to do anything in public or “on the platform” that we don’t practice in private. Anyone who does needs to be delivered from a “performance spirit.” There’s an entertainment spirit that has permeated western Christianity. We’re good “performers,” but we have not been good maintainers of the inward fire. It’s time for us to go forth and reclaim the inward journey, because in the long term we will be only as successful in the outward journey as we are in maintaining the inward fire.

The Lord Is Looking to See If We Have a Fire Within

Some time ago I had a powerful encounter with the Lord while participating in a Catch the Fire Conference in Birmingham, England. I was scheduled to speak one morning, and the night before, I stayed back from the main assembly so I could spend time alone with God. For three hours that night I lay on my bed, quietly praying in the gift of tongues and communing with my Lord, spirit to Spirit.

During that time, I heard the Lord say to me, “I am coming to see if there is any fire on your altar.” That was a little scary to me. After all, I had written about this and taught it. I had loved it and tried to impart it to others. Now the Lord Himself was saying to me, “I’m going to do a house inspection and see if there is anything more than just talk and revelation and gifts.”

Then it was as though I underwent a spiritual “cat-scan.” I felt the presence of God begin at my feet and slowly move up my body, penetrating my entire body until it stopped right over my heart. At that point the Lord graciously allowed me to see what He was seeing. On the altar of my heart there were hot burning coals of fire. Then He said to me, “I commission you to give away these coals of living fire that I have given to you, and you must teach My people how to maintain the fire within.”

There’s a fireplace in Papa’s house (that’s us), and He’s looking to see if there is a fire there. If you’ve ever had a good fireplace in your home, you know how enjoyable it is to cozy up to the fire and sit there in quietness, possibly with a friend or your spouse, and just watch the wood burn and listen to it crackling. It’s an atmosphere where you can let your guard down, share your most intimate secrets, and enjoy greater union with your companion. The Lord is our companion, and He’s looking to see if there is a fire within. He wants there to be a place in our hearts where we can be warm with Him and where He can satisfy our soul. He wants passionate fire burning in our hearts!

The Fire of His Love

The living fire on the altar of our heart is the fuel that will propel us from the warmth of our own personal Emmaus into the dark and downtrodden, harried and hopeless ways and byways of a lost and hurting world. We are a drink offering for our Lord, poured out and wasted for Him, just as the pure nard with which Mary of Bethany anointed the feet of Jesus. Let the fire burn brightly!

With holy yearnings, this is my Epistle of Passion written to you!
James W. Goll