Thomas Stevenson was the father of the famous author Robert Louis Stevenson. That in itself will get you a brief mention in the history books. Actually, though, Thomas was a touch famous himself, especially in his day. His fame came from his groundbreaking innovations in lighthouse designs. In all, he designed more than thirty lighthouses around the rocky coastlines of Scotland.
One stormy night, Thomas Stevenson was aboard a ship that was drifting perilously along a dangerous coastline. He and the other passengers were down below, and they were all panicked with fear, certain the ship was going to be bashed against the rocks at any moment. When Stevenson couldn’t take the suspense any longer, he went up on deck to examine the situation for himself. There he saw the ship’s captain standing tall and firm, with his hands firmly at the ship’s helm as he fought inch by inch to turn the ship away from the rocks. When the captain noticed Stevenson, he just gave Stevenson a smile and carried on with his business. But that smile was enough to calm Stevenson’s fears. So he went back down to the other passengers and said, “It is all right; I have seen the captain’s face, and he smiled.”
Perhaps today you find yourself in some kind of frightening storm, and you are thoroughly convinced that your ship is going to be broken up against the rocks. My question to you is, have you gone up top and consulted God about your situation? He is, after all, the Captain of your “life” ship regardless of whether or not you acknowledge Him as such.
Isaiah 6:1 opens up with the prophet Isaiah reporting that Judah’s King Uzziah has died. Uzziah had become king when he was 16 and had reigned for 52 years. He wasn’t perfect, but he is frequently described by commentators as Judah’s last great king. His life story – the good and the bad of it – is told in 2 Chronicles 26:1-23.
For the purposes of Isaiah 6:1, though, the thing to understand is that a long-reigning king has died, and his death has brought the people of his kingdom, including Isaiah, to a new era. It’s not that the people of Judah don’t know who their next king will be. (Uzziah’s son, Jotham, has reigned with his father as a co-regent for the last years of Uzziah’s life.) The issue is that the people are now in uncharted territory. Many of them have never known a time when Uzziah wasn’t their king, and they are now asking questions. What will the future hold? Will Jotham be a good king? Will their lives get better or worse under him?
Sometime in the middle of all of these transitional worries, Isaiah goes into the temple in Jerusalem and has a vision. In Isaiah 6:1-4, he writes:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim (a seraph is a type of angel); each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
This scene is awesome enough to make the godly Isaiah say, “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).
Be sure to notice that last part of his quote. He says, “…my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” I don’t have to tell you that he’s not talking about Uzziah or Jotham there! You see, Isaiah’s vision reminded him that the TRUE, ETERNAL King was still on His throne. Yes, Uzziah was dead, and, yes, Judah’s future was looking fairly cloudy at the moment, but everything was perfectly fine in heaven. There was no fear, panic, or worry there. God was still firmly in control of His creation.
And, friend, what you need to realize right now is that the same mighty God that Isaiah saw sitting upon His heavenly throne is still seated upon that throne. He’s not dead. He’s not old and past His prime. And He’s not perplexed by your situation. Like the captain of Thomas Stevenson’s ship that night, God is faithfully manning the helm of your life, and nothing is going to happen to you that doesn’t first pass through the loving hands of what He will allow and won’t allow to happen. So take heart today because the King is still high and lifted up on His throne, and the Captain is still steering your ship’s wheel through the teeth of your storm.