Carried, sustained, rescued

“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:3-4)

This statement from God was initially directed at the nation of Israel who were falling into idolatry and turning aside from their historical covenant with God. God created the nation from nothing and has carried the Israelites through their entire history and will continue to do so well into the future because He transcends history.

Through Jesus we also are included in the care God gives. He has carried me, He is carrying me and He will always carry me even into my old age. God promises to carry me as a father would carry his child, to sustain me and to rescue me from anything which might come against me.

This is not a naïve triumphalism, God is not saying He will magically whisk me out of trouble and into happy times. What He promises is to carry me through the nasty stuff. Because God is all-powerful and can see the end, He will take me through the trials of life knowing that despite me perhaps getting knocked around and injured, He can ensure I get to the destination intact.

Part of me would like to believe in a god who magically whisks me out of troubles, but it is better to know the living God who has unlimited power and deems it necessary for us to walk through lives of difficulties while trusting in Him. Israel was rescued by God in the end, but had to endure terrible suffering before that happened. What God promised was that Israel would survive, not that they would have an enjoyable journey.

So, God is carrying me. I also have His assurance that He will not permit Satan to completely overwhelm and destroy me even when I feel like that’s what is happening. This assurance is my lifeline in bad times.

Finding faith in the bible

I always get a thrill of joy when I read John 1:9-13, particularly verses 12 & 13.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, the gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. [John 1:9-13, ESV]

To be given the right to become a child of God, born anew by the choice and approval of God!

Perhaps the thrill I find in this passage is the result of having been on both sides of the belief fence described here. Growing up I was agnostic, verging on atheistic in my attitudes towards Christianity in particular. Yet, when I did encounter Christian faith up close I found I envied my friends who could believe in God and Jesus. Even in my unbelief I saw the comfort that could come from having wholehearted faith in God, but I simply did not have even a hint of such faith.

It was about three years later that I crossed from being someone who didn’t know Jesus to believing in him and being given the right to become a child of God. And the faith which got me to that place was also a gift from God, coming through reading the gospel of John before I believed.

As I read John’s gospel I had an increasing sense that what I was reading was true. Jesus as portrayed in this gospel was alive and real, interacting with ordinary folks like me, quite different to how I had imagined God to be. The more I read the more convinced I became that what I was reading could be true. And if it was true, then I was in big trouble!

God let me stew on that for half a week before I was invited to church by a friend and somehow found myself praying to Jesus, asking him to forgive my sin and redeem my soul.

What stands out to me now almost thirty years later is that God birthed faith in me through my reading the Bible despite me barely understanding what I was reading.  Now I seek to rekindle the fire of my faith, remembering the way God started me on this path confirms that I should I seek Him again in His Word.