But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 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.
In this passage, what popped out for me first, is “Do not fear,” a common theme throughout Scripture. God says it; Jesus says it, time and time again. It must be important to them, and therefore, important for us to hear, to really take to heart. And then, “I have redeemed you,” rescued you, saved you – for the Israelites, liberated you from captivity. It suggests freedom, salvation, newness.
“I have called you by name, you are mine.” One’s name is very important. God refused to give Moses his name, because once you know a person’s name, there’s a sense in which that person belongs to you. “I have called you by name, you are mine.” You belong to me. That’s us. God knows our name, knows who we are, and we belong to him.
And then, “I will be with you,”—through floods and fire. Sounds very much like what our world and its people are going through right now; the promise of God’s presence with us—through whatever happens to us. Notice: the promise is “presence”, “being with”, not fixing or changing things. A friend of ours talked about “moments of shalom,” moments when, days or years later, we look back at an event or an encounter and realize, “Hey, God was there!” God is always there, a part of everything in our lives, and we don’t realize it, we block it. But every now and then, like a flash of lightening, we recognize that God was there—that’s shalom, wholeness, completeness. That’s the promise: “I will be with you.”
So, Lord, help us to be more aware of your presence. You, who have called us by name, are active in all of creation, and in all of our lives, working toward shalom, peace, wholeness. May we be a part of this great work with you. Amen.