New Church Life March/April 2017 - Page 13

 When Isaiah was called by the Lord to be His prophet he also lamented his unworthiness, crying: “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5) John the Baptist is quoted in all four Gospels as confessing his unworthiness even to bend down and loosen the Lord’s sandal strap. (John 1:27) In the Book of Revelation, when the Lord appeared to the Apostle John in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, John was overcome by holy fear and a sense of his own unworthiness. He perceived that nothing within him – nothing living and good – was his own, but that his very life was from the Lord alone, and “fell at His feet as if dead.” (Revelation 1:17) Swedenborg, also, when he was called to serve the Lord as the instrument of the new revelation, had an acute sense of his unworthiness, and cried for the Lord’s mercy. “I acknowledged that I was impure from head to foot! . . . I found myself unworthy of all the grace which God deigned to show me, because with me the love of self and the pride were so deeply rooted.” He also noted that “it is not enough to call oneself unworthy, for this may be done while yet the heart is far from it, and it may be pretense, but to perceive that one is such, this is of the grace of the Spirit.” (Journal of Dreams n. 85, 272, 74) To perceive that we are unworthy is more than an intellectual acknowledgment, sincere as it may be, but implies a deep feeling of our unworthiness. It is not a happy feeling, but it is a hopeful sign because it prepares the way for genuine, whole-hearted worship of the Lord -- and that is the most exalted and joyful of feelings. (See Apocalypse Revealed 275) How can we see and be affected by the beauty and perfection of the Lord, without at the same time seeing and feeling what flawed and wretched creatures we are? “Unprofitable servants.” The same light of truth that reveals how small and shabby we are, also opens our eyes to the infinite goodness and beauty of the Lord, and how gracious and merciful He has been toward us – and that is a joyful thing to contemplate. (WEO) 79