February 5th, 2004



Walking to work this morning, I saw the Olympics in the distance across the bay. I needed to see them. They're always there, visible or not, each morning, noon, night. They don't move, whatever my perception. They're as close to eternal as I'm likely to see this side of heaven.

God is like that. Obvious, I realize, but it helps to remember. "There is no shadow of turning with Thee." Remembering who He is helps me remember who I am.
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."

—Isaiah 43:1-3a
Because of who He is, I am who He says I am. He has called me by name. My identity is even less likely to move than those stony spires. I may live into it or run from it. I have the freedom to disobey, or even to work hard to somehow achieve who He has already declared me to be. No matter how I act, with the truth or against it, it's still the truth. Since I didn't do it, I can't undo it. That's theological fact, not some self-help feelgood mumbo-jumbo. And it costs, in faithfulness and suffering and sacrifice. Because of who He says I am, I'm called to act and invest and respond in faithfulness to it. But those actions aren't the truth; they just come as a result of it. "Imperatives are built on indicatives." I am His.

Storms in my life in the past couple of days, things I wouldn't have chosen. As with pretty much all of life, I don't know for certain if the choices I've made are faithful ones; only that I believe them to be and have never intended to harm. The shelter in the storm is this truth— He has redeemed me, called me by name. I am His. That's more true than anything I may or may not do. And it's true of everyone who trusts Him.

So very much to be thankful for. Odd to be filled with gratitude even as painful things happen; strange that gratitude and hurt coexist and even complement one another now rather than contradicting. It's because of who He is, and who He says I am. He really is my refuge, strength, shield. He really is coming through for me.

And even further comfort: I know these promises aren't just for me.

"For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,"
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

—Isaiah 54:10
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