God allowed Isaiah into his presence in Isaiah 6. God was sitting on a high throne, wearing a robe that filled the temple. He was surrounded by mighty seraphs (fiery beings or angels), who flew around the temple calling out God's holiness. And they did not call him Father or Friend -- they called him Lord Almighty. Their voices shook the temple and their was smoke everywhere. (God's presence is associated with a cloud of smoke throughout Exodus and in Mark 9.)
In response to God's holiness and glory, Isaiah is overwhelmed with guilt for his own sin. He says, "Woe to me! I am ruined, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord Almighty" (Isaiah 6:5).
The presence of God was not a happy, sparkly, comforting experience for Isaiah. He did not meet a jolly, Santa Claus-like grandfather in the sky. He met the glorious, powerful, wholly perfect King of everything, and his immediate response was to recognize his gross unworthiness. But, God did not chastise Isaiah for his sin or send him away because of his unworthiness. Isaiah confessed that he had filthy lips, or in the NIV, unclean lips, so God sent an angel to him to cleanse him.
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 is forgiven.
At first I thought, wow, it was that easy? In the presence of the King of Heaven, Isaiah's guilt could just disappear? But it didn't just disappear. It had to be burned away. Touching a hot coal to your lips would not be a pleasant experience. It would not feel good. God never promises that being cleansed of my guily will be easy, or even that it won't be excruciating. But, the amazing thing is, He is the holy King, the Lord of Heaven's Armies, and He is willing and desires to remove my guilt so that I can dwell in His temple.
After Isaiah's sins are forgiven, he isn't sent on his way. That's not the end of the story. Cleansing is not God's whole plan for us; it is just what's necessary to get to the important part. Isaiah then heard the Lord asking, "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" and Isaiah said, "Here am I. Send me." God humbled Isaiah and cleansed him so he would be ready for the mission God had for him. In Isaiah's case, the mission was to take a hard message to hardened people.
I feel like over the last two weeks God has been humbling me and cleansing me, and in just the last few days I have felt His presence more and more to the point that I no longer get that embarrassed, am I talking to the ceiling right now? feeling. Feeling that I am truly, really in the presence of the King and of my Savior -- my quiet time -- is not a chore on my list anymore, it's something I love and crave. But He did not call me to Him to humble me, cleanse me and allow me in His presence only. He is preparing me for a mission. He is asking, who will go out for us? Whom shall I send? And it's time for me to say, here I am. Send me.
I don't know where He wants to send me yet, but if the King loves me enough to make me guiltless before Him through Jesus, then I will go wherever He asks me to go!