I Saw the Lord...
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
(Isa 6:1-3 ESV)
We all have experienced times of turmoil. We’ve lost loved ones—parents, spouses, children. We’ve endured the death of relationships—betrayal by a close friend, abandonment by a spouse. We’ve gone through tough times economically—mounting medical bills, the loss of a job. We’ve heard the words no one wants to hear from a doctor—cancer, Parkinson’s, no cure. Maybe we remember times of national turmoil. There are still those alive who lived through the Great Depression as young children.  Some have fought on foreign soil; others have waited patiently for their loved ones to return from the front. I remember a lady at church, Ms. Sylvia, talking about the anxious time when they were waiting to learn her brother’s fate in World War II. For months all they knew was he was MIA, missing in action, and they had no idea if he was still alive. How relieved they were when they found out he had been captured rather than killed! More recently, we remember watching planes strike the World Trade Center in New York. We have experienced times of uncertainty, anxiety, fear of what the future holds.
Isaiah locates his vision at a specific place in time. Most commentators think that this vision takes place in the temple, that God’s physical house on earth momentarily exploded beyond the confines of its physical space. It happens “in the year King Uzziah died.” King Uzziah was the best administrator and military leader Judah had seen in over a century. His reign was marked by 52 years of prosperity and security. By the end of his reign however, in 754 BC Tiglath-Pileser III had ascended the throne in Assyria, with ideas of spreading his empire. How would Judah deal with a powerful Assyria seeking to build an empire? The death of Uzziah, Judah’s experienced statesman and leader, would begin a time of uncertainty.
The one thing that political uncertainty does, however, is it reminds us that hope is ultimately found in God alone. “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation” (Ps 146:3). Isaiah sees the true king only after the human king is dead. Judah’s king Uzziah has died, yet their true king, the God of Israel, is still very much alive. Even amid our turmoil, God is enthroned in the heavens. There is great comfort in knowing that God has been, is now, and will always be in control.
People need to know that when the world seems to be coming down around them, even on top of them, that God is still on his throne.
We read in Ps 29:10,
The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
As people in ministry, our task is to serve not as lifeguards rescuing people from the flood, but as those who point to the only one capable of rescuing us. We point to the one enthroned over the flood, the tamer of chaos, and give people a vision of God’s heavenly throne room. It is in times of turmoil, whether it be communal or personal, that it is especially important for us to remember that God is in control. How wonderful it would be if we could help people paint their own vision of God, enthroned in the heavens. What if we helped people say, “In the year I was diagnosed with cancer, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.” What a blessing it is to hear the testimony of others, witnessing from the midst of their own personal flood, “God is in control!”
 When I need a reminder of how privileged I am, I remember that as a child growing up in 1930s Alabama, my grandmother got a single orange for Christmas.