It’s easy to get really comfortable with verses like those found in Isaiah 43:1-3. Then again, maybe not.
“But now thus says the LORD, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
I’ll tell you what, I certainly have claimed that promise once or twice in my oh so tangled life. How quick I am to do things like that. Well, tonight, this verse popped up on one of my dear FB friend’s status – you know, one of those daily bible verse things people subscribe to – and I can only blame the Holy Spirit for this thought because honestly, my brain doesn’t work like this. For the first time, I’m noticing something about these verses that I’m sure I have read in about two dozen Dayspring cards and maybe even a few from the highly coveted Hallmark. Have you spotted it yet? Keep looking. Mixed in with all of those promises of what God’s going to do for me, there is something I never noticed before.
God is telling us not to fear, because he has redeemed us. It occurs to me that if He has to TELL me not to fear, it stands to reason that there would be something in my life that I could possibly be afraid of. There went that whole theory of Christianity solving all of my problems. Then there’s that sentence about passing through some waters. Notice that our Heavenly Father did not say, Elizabeth, while you stand on the shore and maybe even dip in your big toe, I’ll be with you. No, as much as I don’t want to admit it, God’s promise there requires that I do more than splash along the bank. Looks like I’ll have to do more than get my feet wet to claim that one.
Seems like if the rivers are going to have a chance to overwhelm me, it’s not going to be while I’ve got myself seated squarely on the bank. This brings back uncomfortable memories of the time my little sister Emily thought that I could hold her and I both up at the pool at camp in the 5’ deep section when I was only 4’ tall myself. She panicked as we both went down, meanwhile, my goal at the ripe old age of seven was to keep her head above water which meant at the time that mine would be under. Friends, drowning or the thought of drowning is not a good feeling. I can distinctly remember my mother calmly walking to the end of the pool we were in and pulling Emily out which allowed me to catch a breath and go back to my latest swimming expedition of the day. What I realize now is why my mother was so calm. She had been watching. She knew what was about to happen and so when it did, all she had to do was reach in and pull us out. You see, my mother knew something that my seven year old brain didn’t. While I was basically sure that I was drowning, Mom knew that she could get to us. Because we were (and still are) hers, she was going to do what it took to rescue us. So what could have been an emergency or even a tragedy wasn’t – why? Because my Mom was on the lookout for her girls. That didn’t mean she kept Emily from jumping in to my inexperienced arms, but it did mean that she had what it took to get us out.
Then there is that pesky fire thing. Excuse me; I know at some point someone told me that Christianity was my fire insurance. From the sounds of this, while the flames of Hell are definitely out for me, it still seems like that while I’m on this earth; I might have some moments when the heat gets turned up.
To top it all off, I don’t even see here where the Lord says that He will take us out of all of these things! I think one of the great lies that the church (myself included) likes to believe that somehow we are promised this American Dream – whatever that is. Why would we claim that when, brothers and sisters, we have better news! While He may or may not take us out of the situation we don’t like, He has promised that He will be with us IN it. If that’s not a Savior, I don’t know what is.
Despite all of this, I still find the best part at the end. It’s kind of like one of those bad news/good news situations except the good outweighs the bad in ways that cannot be measured. For He is the Lord, MY God, the Holy One of Israel… wait for it, wait for it… MY SAVIOR (and, I hope, yours too). So I know that whether it be waters, rivers, flames, or other, I know that I have a God who is for me, who created me, who thought this whole thing up and I can trust Him. Completely.