But now this is what the LORD says,
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.”
~ Isaiah 43:1
Standing on the balcony of a summer camp chalet in North Alabama, the significance of these words hit me for the first time. I had just finished my freshman year of college. Oh, what a hard year that was! I had wrestled my first bout with depression, but not knowing what it was, I really didn’t know what to do with it. It was just frighteningly dark, menacing even. It felt like God had abandoned me – and if I was really honest with myself, I wasn’t sure I wanted him to come back.
However, towards the end of that year, a former youth group leader asked if I would come lead worship for their high school youth group summer getaway. It paid, so I said yes. I chose the songs and put together the music, but my heart was dreading it.
That summer afternoon in Alabama, I had just finished running through the songs for the evening. I went out on the balcony by the meeting room and sat down in a conveniently placed rocking chair, looking out over the peaceful scenery around me. I found myself humming part of a chorus for one of the evening songs: “I have called you by name; you are mine.”
As the words began to come to the forefront of my mind from the shadows of my subconscious, relief flooded over me. I literally took a deep breath. For a moment, I didn’t know why I felt such relief. Then it hit me.
For what seemed like forever but was probably less than a year, I’d felt like I couldn’t escape from God. It felt like he had abandoned me – I couldn’t feel his presence like I once had – but it also felt like I was incapable of abandoning him, even if (when!) I wanted to. I felt trapped in this relationship, unsure if I wanted to leave, unsure if I could trust this invisible God. Unable to walk away, regardless.
As the Scripture words of this praise chorus sunk into my being, relief flooded me because I finally saw that “you are mine” was not a threat I couldn’t escape, but rather a promise to which I could cling. The tone of voice makes such a difference!
When I hear the words as they are spoken – lovingly, gently, kindly, compassionately, and in truth – how quickly my soul rests! It was like a lamp was turned on in a terrifying dark night, showing my terror to be unfounded.
I have come back to this verse and the verses after it time and again for reassurance since that summer day. The LORD goes on to say, “You are precious in my eyes, and I love you.” He created me. He formed me. He redeemed me. He calls me by name. He loves me!