Then the Lord said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has walked naked…for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Ethiopia.” Isaiah 20:3
Sometimes God asks us to do crazy things, humiliating things, and God asks us to do them for quite some time. Isaiah was not an eccentric wandering prophet. He was a councilor to the king and a spokesperson for the Most High God. Isaiah was a highly respected religious leader in Israel. Which makes this story all the more unsettling!
God asked Isaiah—a member of the king’s court—to take off his clothes and walk around naked and barefoot as a way of demonstrating the humiliation that was to befall the Egyptians and Ethiopians, who at times were enemies of Israel. What is even more shocking is the fact that God had Isaiah do this for three years. This wasn’t a one-time publicity stunt; this was a three-year project for Isaiah. God used Isaiah to speak to a whole nation, and Isaiah was honored to be in God’s service. But that service required Isaiah to do things and act in ways that must have been terribly uncomfortable.
To serve God means that sometimes we have to be willing to do unpopular, unconventional, and even humiliating things. We may have to silently take the blame for an error we did not commit in order to safeguard others. We may have to speak up and out about harmful practices within our company when everyone else is afraid to raise their voices. At a town meeting, at church, or in the boardroom we may have to make a public display of ourselves in order to make a point we believe God is calling us to make. Sometimes God asks us to do crazy things—humiliating things—and God asks us to do them for quite some time. Being in God’s employ can be costly, but there is no better place in the world to be!
Has your faith cost you anything in the last year?
Lord, I don’t want to have to make a spectacle of myself for You. If I were Isaiah, I probably would have quit before stripping down. I say I am willing to follow You, but I know I have my limits. Lord, I am no Isaiah. It is unlikely I will be Your spokesperson to a national audience. I know I will put more limits on our relationship than You will. Still, work with me. Stretch me. Help me to be more useful, more courageous, and more dutiful to Your wishes. In Your name, I pray. AMEN.