I wonder how often we get to experience what the prophet Isaiah saw in the temple as narrated in Is.6. He “saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple”. He also witnessed seraphim chanting what has become in Jewish prayer, the Kedusha, and in Christian liturgy, the Sanctus: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory”.
Ezekiel’s experience in chapter 1 is even more awesome.
Actually, Ezekiel was not even in the temple, that center of worship. He was in a foreign land. Not in comfortable circumstances either. He was one among the exiles in Babylon. In spite of his situation and circumstances, he saw the manifestation of the Lord.
Imagine for a moment that you woke up one day to discover you are homeless. Suppose you realized that you were stateless – like Ezekiel – or what is commonly referred to as “an uncategorized alien” – not only “an alien” but undefined. These are real visions for many.
There was the husband who was mourning his wife, when, in the midst of his grief, found himself being accused of her murder.
Isaiah embraced his experience. He was overwhelmed, no doubt about that. “Woe to me, for I am a sinner”, he cried.
Following his self-awareness and reassurance – call it anointing, cleansing, forgiveness – he accepted the challenge that the encounter entailed. There was a purpose in what he experienced. “Here I am, send me” is the same as saying, “I embrace the purpose of this experience”.
Ezekiel too came to self-awareness after the experience. “When I saw it, I fell face down…”
Think, for a moment, about Moses’ experience in Exodus 3.
He saw something that was out of the ordinary. He saw flames on a bush but the bush was not burnt. As with everyone of us, this extraordinary phenomenon aroused his curiosity and prompted him to investigate.
The investigation led to a discovery. That is precisely what happens in life. If we investigate those things that happen in life, we will discover deeper truths, perhaps deeper than we can fathom.
When Moses discovered the meaning of what he experienced, that he would have to go to Pharaoh, from whom he had fled some years earlier, he must have been scared. Because he was scared or afraid, he remembered all his “weaknesses” or deficiencies.
The same thing can be said of the prophet Jeremiah who said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child” (Jer.1:6).
Many times we feel we are not qualified for a task: “I am not trained for it”, “there is somebody better than me”, “you don’t know what I have done”, and so on.
There are also instances of running away from experiences.
Jonah is a good example. His encounter with God required him to go to Nineveh. He not only resisted the idea but planned his own counter measures. Instead of going east, he would flee west.
Because we have classified certain experiences as good and others as bad, naturally we like or embrace the good ones and resist and even run away from the bad. In hindsight the purposes for the experiences, even the “bad” ones, have been good.