This has been a week full of minor pinpricks of inconvenience, of small irritations, of minor depression brought on by the realization of another year flying by and the somewhat frightening knowledge that my energy continues to leach away almost day by day. I have felt adrift and slightly overcome. “Where is it all going? What am I accomplishing?”, I grumble.
God, seeing my discouragement, has an answer. In my reading this morning I read this:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
Immediate calm and peace.
I ran my fingers over the printed words, as if by touching them I could imprint them permanently on my heart. I so need to know this… not just when I am reminded, as in this case ~ but know it so that I can act on it instinctively; so that I need never fear or be overwhelmed because my trust is always in the Lord.
God’s love is without limits. He sees everything and knows everything in His huge Creation ~ and the wonder of it is that He also sees me… and that I matter to Him!
He has redeemed me. My soul would have been lost; forever separated from Him because of my innate sinful nature and my own choices. Yet, before the foundations of the earth were formed, He called me by name. He chose me. He knew before time that I was to be His. He has paid the price for my disobedience with the blood of His own Son, and attributed the righteousness of Christ to me. Now, by His grace and mercy I am safe; I am forgiven, and I belong to Him. Blessed be His name.
I can’t speak for others, but I know that my particular makeup makes me long to be a part of something or someone. Old people like me have lost a lot of people over the years. My parents are dead. I am divorced and my four grown children are scattered at far distances across the country. Many of my longtime friends have now gone Home to be with the Lord, or are too frail to be out. It is easy to feel isolated at times when my energy is low and I am tired. My church family are precious to me, but there is not quite the same intimacy and transparency as with childhood friends or “blood” family. I sometimes feel very alone ~ and then I read these words in His love-letter to us: “I have called you by your name; you are Mine!”
I think of how Mary must have felt in the garden on that first Sunday morning following His death, searching for the Lord after she sees the empty tomb; feeling devastated and blinded by her tears. Then she hears that familiar voice gently saying to her, “Mary!” He has called her by name. The One Whom she has loved and followed is still here and cares about her. Her anxiety is immediately calmed. I look around me at the confusion and chaos that is happening in the world, and I can be at peace by knowing that He holds all things in His hands, and that He has a purpose and plan for everything that is happening. I know by experience that I can trust Him.
I can have calm in the midst of the chaos because I know that I am His, and that nothing can take me out of His hand. I am subject to all the troubles and dangers in the world, the same as everyone else. Yet, He has promised never to leave me or forsake me. Does this remove me from danger or take away my problems? No, but I can feel secure in continuing to go forward because He is with me, and I am not alone. Each problem, each sorrow can be a means to deeper faith, of learning some new truth about the love of God. Even death has lost its sting because it is only a doorway to an eternity with Him.
Another way to look at it is to see Him in His role as a Shepherd. The shepherd knows his sheep by name, and they know him. He calls them by name to coax them to the fresh water and best grass, or to remove them from danger. The bond between them is such that if one goes astray, he doesn’t hesitate: he goes to find the lost one, and rejoices when it is found. He doesn’t look down on the sheep because it is weak and stupid; he knows the character of sheep. He is patient because that is the only way to deal with foolish creatures. The shepherd’s role is to keep his sheep safe from harm, and he goes after the lost one to save it; he doesn’t wait for the sheep to come and find him. Just so, our Father knows our character, and is patient and loving with us. He seeks us out when we wander away from Him and does everything He can to bring us back into the fold. He wants us to be safe. He calls us by our names and lets us know that He is faithful in wanting what is best for us. He knows us and loves us as individuals who each matter to Him. I am His, and I can be sure that He is interested in me and that He is anxious for me to learn and succeed.
Not only has He called me by name; He has chosen me. By adoption, I am a part of His family.
- “…elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:2)
- “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…” (I Peter 2:9)
- Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him. (Ephesians 1:3,4)
How can I not be grateful; how can I not want to live a life which pleases Him and glorifies His name?
I think the wonder of total intimacy is what makes our relationship so cherished. He loves me and I love Him ~ and there is no fear in love.
I can tell Him things I could never voice to another human being. I can admit it when I am lonely; I can vent my anger and frustrations. I can let down my guard and confess my fears. It is hard to admit fear to another believer, because we have laid the burden of needing to be seen as always “being victorious” on ourselves while He demands nothing of the kind. Instead, I can just confess it to Him when I have failed, and ask for His forgiveness. I can share something that has amused me, or thank Him for some unexpected joy. When I suddenly see something in myself that is ridiculous, I can give Him a rueful little smile of recognition; knowing that He has known this about me all along and that we are now both in on it… and what took me so long?
Knowing all this, why is it that I so often forget and try to get through life all on my own? How can I be so egocentric as to think I can function without asking Him for His wisdom? Why do I assume that somehow it all has to be on my shoulders, when He has promised to be with me through every trial and every detail of life? He is there; I am His ~ and I act like a headstrong two year old: “Mine! Me do it!” How foolish I am…
Oh, Father; Please let me remember that above everything else: You have chosen me, and You call me by name. Please give me wisdom and spiritual maturity so that I can release the worries of life into Your keeping and trust that every detail is known by You. Please help me to submit to the hard things in peace because I trust You and know that “He that is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (I John 4:4)