I often write notes from sermons and devotions on receipts. I don’t know why, but I do and I stuff them in my Bible and use them as bookmarks. I’ve got notes from over two years ago still hanging out and reminding me of where I’ve been and some of the things I have learned.
I’ll make the context portion of this quick:
I left an incredible community behind when I moved to Sacramento and I miss it terribly. And I’m starting to fear I’ll never have anything like that again. The weight of that is really starting to hit me. I genuinely love this place. But what’s any place without it’s guts? I’m waiting for that sense of belonging here. That’s what counts.
So I’m really sad and because I don’t like to be a normal human being and just talk about my feelings, I usually convert sadness and fear into anger because that’s easier to work with. So to put it nicely, I’ve been a little grumpy the last few days. (Sorry mom, I love you.)
Here’s the deal though. Sure, I’m lonely and afraid, but it’s only eating me up because my heart’s not in the right place. I’ve been in worse shape and been full of confidence and joy. What’s different this time is I haven’t been telling Jesus about it. I’ve slipped back into my dumb, self-reliant tendencies.
So, back to those receipts. When I decided to pull my head out of my butt yesterday and spend some much needed time with Jesus, I had this urge to look through every receipt and scrap of paper I had stuffed in the pages of my Bible. So I did. And I ended up being sucked into Isaiah. I swear that book has magnetic properties similar to the tractor beam on the Death Star.
Anyway. I started reading where I had stuck a paper scrap and I kept on reading. When I got to my “life chapter,” Isaiah 55, I slammed on the brakes and realized a consistent theme had emerged in the things I had highlighted over the years. The verses mostly had to do with whose the Israelites were and who God is.
And just like that, sneaky Jesus dropped another bomb on me. “Hannah, here is my resume. It contains a fat list of reasons why I’m overqualified for taking care of you and why you’re going to be just fine.”
These were the verses:
- “Don’t forget it, Jacob; O Israel, remember—you are Mine. I made you; you are My servant; I will not forget you.” -Isaiah 44:21
- “I didn’t whisper in secret or mumble in the darkness; I didn’t say to Jacob’s children: ‘Look around the desert and try to find Me.’ No, I am the Eternal One. I will speak clearly what is right and true.” -Isaiah 45:19
- “So turn your back on those idols and your face to Me.
I will save you, wherever you are, to the ends of the earth,
For I am God. There is none other.
I make this solemn vow; I have spoken a word—
faithful and true—and it will not return; it will be done.
My words have wings; they will be accomplished;
every knee will bow down to Me.
Every tongue will swear allegiance to Me.
They will say of Me, ‘Only by the Eternal One shall I see things through.
Only by God shall I go with integrity and strength through life.'” -Isaiah 45:22-24
4. “Look here. I have made you a part of Me, written you on the palms of My hands.” -Isaiah 49:16
5. “I have given you My words to speak and protected you with the shadow of My hand.
I am the One who pulled the skies tight and made the earth rock solid.
And I am the same who said to Zion, ‘You are indeed Mine!'” -Isaiah 51:16
6. Go in confidence and grace—no rushing, no frantic escape.
There’s no need to be anxious—the Eternal One goes before and behind you.
The God of Israel paves the way with assurance and strength.
He watches your back. -Isaiah 52:12
7. “Because the One who made you will be your husband;
the One called Commander of heavenly armies
Will set you right again, the Holy One of Israel.
It’s not for nothing that He is called ‘God of all the earth.'” -Isaiah 54:5
8. “‘Even if the mountains heave up from their anchors, and the hills quiver and shake, I will not desert you. You can rely on My enduring love; My covenant of peace will stand forever.’ So says the Eternal One, whose love won’t give up on you.” -Isaiah 54:10
So I looked back on these passages and realized holy crap here’s the Creator of the Galaxy telling the Israelites over and over: You are mine. And I will care for you and fight for you and love you. You don’t need to worry about a thing.
How many times has Jesus proven himself to me when he didn’t need to? How much has he pulled me through? How much has he provided?
And here I am grouchy because I’m afraid. Because there’s a part of me that has to know the plan, has to see what’s going on. What kind of faith is that?
The first time I ever experienced a specific encounter with Jesus was my freshman year of college. I was going through a rough patch amidst a transition and I was feeling pretty beat. In the middle of the night when I was out in the parking lot with some friends, a girl I had never met came up to us and said, “This might sound weird, but God has put it on my heart to share something with you guys,” she turned to look at me and added, “especially you.” (Cue chills.)
She walked away after telling me to read Isaiah 55.
It’s been my go-to passage for years. It always seems to hit me where I’m at, wherever I’m at. Last night I found myself writing it down in my own words–the way it registers in my gut when I read it:
“I don’t get why you try to do this yourself. I am the embodiment of life in its fullness and I am free. I hold to my word. Listen to me so you can have that same “life in its fullness.” I don’t always do things how you think I should or how you expect I will. My intentions are above you and My good & beautiful plan is for you. And when you grasp this, you will move forward in soul-deep joy. As you watch death flame into life, old become new, and pain transform into something beautiful, you will know it was Me and you will see that you can trust Me without a doubt, forever.”
It’s pretty crazy the things Jesus will do to reach us. Orchestrating countless details so a stranger will listen and act and step out and communicate to people she doesn’t know. All based on a whisper in her heart. And it’s even crazier though how easily we forget how deeply we are loved by an infinitely wonderful God who finds us–in all our inadequacy–flawless.
What do you think would happen if we let that fact knock us on our butts and dismantle our backwards mentality that we should be in control? Suddenly questions like “where am I going to be in five years” and “who am I going to be with” and “what if I’ve chosen the wrong career” and “should I buy those socks or not” become totally irrelevant.
I mean read those verses again. Seriously. We have every reason to live in confidence–not concern.
Why is that so hard for us?
Trust is freaky. I get it. But I’ve found it’s far safer to trust God with my life than it is to trust myself. I’m destructive and rash. He’s infinitely creative and bent on setting things right. And no matter how many times I royally bomb it, he always makes my mess into something good. Somehow. Every time.