Imagine stepping into an impossible situation with God standing beside you. You turn to God and say, “you can go home now, I’ve got this.”
The foolish audacity of that picture is absurd, yet, on most days, we take that very attitude with God. We relegate God to our Sunday mornings, our occasional #BVD’s (Bible Verse of the Day) and a few other pop-Christianity practices sprinkled on our lives like Holy Spirit pixie dust. The Guardian of the Galaxies functionally serving as our personal bellhop, carrying our baggage every now and then in exchange for a measly tip.
It’s time we splash some cold water on our face, slap our cheeks a few times and wake up to the reality that we have God… THE GOD… speaking to us, trying to put us in our place. And, when God puts us in our place, there is no where better to be than right there. Listen to God speak to you, to all of God’s people, through the words of Isaiah.
“You are my servant…” Typically, the role of a servant is not one to be envied. While many a foolhardy man has fancied himself as the Master of his own fate and the Captain of his own destiny, this is a position of weakness compared to the servant of God. Indeed, God’s greatest servants have often been Kings and Queens, Commanders and shapers of culture who recognized that no man or woman can truly be “the man in the arena” described by Theodore Roosevelt. Indeed, if ever there had been one who could have grasped the title of Master or Captain, it was Jesus, the Son of God himself. Yet, as the Scriptures remind us, Jesus “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:7. The likeness of men is akin to the form of a servant. Men were created to be servants of God and when we embrace this reality, when we empty ourselves and take on our God-given identity, we put ourselves in position to fulfill His powerful promises in our lives.
“I have chosen you and not cast you off.” Eons before you ever chose God, He had chosen you. Before the foundations of the world, you were chosen, predestined and adopted in love by God into His family for His glory. (see Ephesians 1:4-6). Before your heart ever flittered in love for God, God first loved you with an everlasting love (see 1 John 4:19). After you splash that water on your face and slap your cheeks a few times, look yourself in the mirror and repeat these words, “God chose me.” Why would He do that, knowing how broken by sin we truly are and how pitiful we are at obeying His commands? Why would God stick with us, hold onto us and never let us go, even on those days when we are more unruly than a toddler having a meltdown in the grocery store check out aisle? Only the love of a perfect Father could sustain the insolence and ingratitude we incessantly spew from our sinful lips and selfish lives.
“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.” You could put this track on repeat and you still wouldn’t hear it enough. We need to be reminded of this 2 sided command/promise coin every single day. In fact, it has been said (although I have never personally counted it up) that the command to “fear not” is repeated 365 times in the Bible… one for every day of the year! On the one side of the coin is the command is to “fear not.” However, if God left us only with the command, and not the promise, it would be cruel and cold. Our capacity to overcome fear is intimately tied to the promise that God is with us. Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us… yes, that’s what this whole thing is about. With Christ, we are more than conquerors, we can do all things, endure all things and accomplish great things (see Romans 8:37, Philippians 4:13 and John 15 for starters)… but apart from Christ, we can do nothing (again, see John 15).
Like telling us not to be afraid, God also tells us not to be dismayed. What God is saying is, “do not be sad, upset, anxious, worried or depressed.” That is what dismayed means and if there were one word to sum up the mental/emotional state or many in our world today, that might be the one that fits best. Jesus understands what you are going through… He says to you, like He said to His disciples… “Let not your hearts be troubled or dismayed.” (John 14:27) What you need is not more entertainment or distractions to get your mind off of your circumstances, what you need is the true peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:6). The peace of God comes from the God of peace, which is why Jesus first said, “Peace I leave with you: my own peace I give to you. It is not as the world gives its greetings that I give you peace.” (John 14:27) The command to “be not dismayed” is like a check that can only be cashed by the promise, “for I am your God.”
“I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Notice who is doing all the heavy lifting here. The burden of being strong, the task of getting help, the responsibility of holding on are all placed squarely on the righteous right hand of God. When you belong to God, when you submit yourself to His Lordship as a servant, you not only come under the power and authority of God, but you also become an heir and a beneficiary of the power and authority of God. See how Jesus describes our access to HIS power and authority in accomplishing the mission of God’s expanding Kingdom-
“Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy…” (Luke 10:19)
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18-19a)
“you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Me & ___________ (fill in the blank) will never move the needle, change the game or break the chains. But, Me & God… now you’re on to something. Let God put you in your place and reap the benefits!