Isaiah resisted God’s call because he felt he was unworthy: “I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips.” He cannot reconcile this with the fact that “my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6: 5). Jeremiah resists the call of God because he is insecure; he thinks he is too young: “Lord God, look, I do not know how to speak; I am a child” (Jeremiah 1: 6). Paul considers himself the least of the Apostles because he persecuted the Church of God (1 Corinthians 15:: 9). Peter, the impulsive Apostle, is so moved by the abundant catch of fish that he feels unworthy of such love: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5: 8).
Do you resist God’s call? Perhaps you feel unworthy, insecure or downright sinful. Too often we do not plunge into the deep because we do not feel worthy of God’s call. Too often we walk away thinking that God could not be calling me to witness to Him through religious life or marriage or priesthood or the single life. So we go along doing what we can but we never really put out into the deep.
However, putting out into the deep is precisely what God is asking of us as Christians in our world today. The times we live in call for extraordinary love and witness. In each of the instances above God moves the person from resistance to acceptance. God does not accept Isaiah’s woe of unworthiness. He sends a seraph with a live coal to touch his mouth: “See, now this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin is purged” (Isaiah 6: 7). God does not allow Jeremiah to wallow in his insecurities: “Do not say I am a child. Go now to those to whom I send you and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to protect you – it is Yahweh who speaks” (Jeremiah 1: 7). Then, in a gesture similar to Isaiah, God puts out His hand and touches his mouth: “There, I am putting my words into your mouth…” (Jeremiah 1: 9). Paul sees his status as an apostle as a matter of grace: “By the grace of God I am what I am and His grace to me has not been ineffective” (1 Corinthians 15: 10). And Jesus does not dismiss Peter when he protests his sinfulness. He sends him forth to win people over to the Gospel way of life.
When God asks Isaiah whom He should send, Isaiah steps forward: “Here I am send me” (Isaiah 6:9). The same is true of Jeremiah, Paul, and Peter. Each proclaims the Word of God and each puts out into the deep in sharing God’s love.
You and I are invited to step beyond our insecurities and fears and put out into the deep. We have nothing to fear because God is with us just as He was with the foursome above. God is gracing us just as He graced the prophets of old and the apostles in the early Church. Our confidence comes from our ability to see what God is doing in us and through us. “When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Him” (Luke 5: 11). Why not put out into the deep; why not plunge into love?
Rev. James M. McNamara