Daily Devotion – April 8, 2020 – Erin Bjerke
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.
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.
Who do you belong to?
If you’ve ever been asked this question, especially by someone who’s a generation or two older than you, it might mean “Who are your parents?” or even “Who are your grandparents?”
A couple summers ago I was at a big family reunion. The Bjerkes get together for what we call the “Bjerke Picnic” the third Sunday of June each year, with a “big one” every five years or so, where everyone comes if they possibly can. This reunion is for all of the descendants of my great-grandparents. They had nine children, and each of those children had many children, resulting in my dad having over twenty first cousins on that side of the family. Especially with my generation, with so many cousins and second cousins and great aunts and uncles, it’s hard for everyone to keep track of who belongs to who. Luckily, the planning committee had thought of this, and made color-coded name tags for everyone that included exactly how they were related to one of the nine children of my great-grandparents. For example, my name tag was blue, because that’s the color assigned to my grandpa’s branch of the family, with my grandpa’s name, my dad’s name, and finally my name. If anyone wanted to know who I belonged to, they just had to read my name tag. Genius!
When we read the first verse of Isaiah 43, this question of “who do you belong to?” gets a whole lot simpler. In this one verse, God says that it was God who not only created us and redeemed us, but God also calls us and claims us as God’s own. That means if you ever went to a reunion of all of God’s family (like church 😉) and they handed out name tags, yours would simply say that you belong to God.
In the next verse, right after God claims us, God says that God will be with us, even when we pass through difficult times. We will not be overwhelmed, burned, or consumed. I invite you to hang on to these two promises as we all go through these uncertain times: 1) God has claimed you. 2) God stays with you.
Prayer: God of family, thank you for claiming us and giving us a place to belong—a place to find refuge through life’s storms. When we pass through the waters, when we’re worried, distracted, or troubled, remind us of our true identity: that we are yours. Amen.