One of my recommended Bible readings for tomorrow is from the prophet Isaiah. In Chapter 43, verse 1, the Lord says, “Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
This was written during a time when God’s people were held in captivity. They were not able to live life as they had hoped. In some ways it seemed as though God had abandoned them.
But God spoke through the prophet to remind them he had not abandoned them. He said, “Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you.”
I love God’s gentle words there. It can be very easy to be afraid when we do not know what the future holds. It can be frightening when our imaginations run wild listening to the news, or various opinions. But God says to us in the midst of our fears and uncertainties, “Do not be afraid.” That is an easy thing to hear, but what assurances are there that God is going to take care of us?
In the next phrase he says, “I have called you by name, you are mine.”
Something very few people know about Old Testament times is the meaning of calling someone or something by name – giving a name. The naming of something or someone implied “ownership,” and that the one giving the name is obligated to care for the one who is named.
When God said he had called his people by name, he was reminding them of his promise to take care of them. He was reminding them that they belonged to him, and he would fulfill his responsibilities for them.
Centuries later when Jesus was baptized by his cousin, John, in the Jordan River, God called Jesus by a wonderful name. He called him “The Beloved.”
Do you realize by extension, you are God’s beloved as well? God knows your name, has called you by your name. You belong to God and he will take care of you. God has said to you in the whispers of your heart, “I have called YOU by name. You are mine. Don’t be afraid. I am walking beside you all the way.”
I invite you to ponder this for a while. As you do, listen carefully so you can hear how God is whispering in your heart, encouraging you to remember and accept the claim that you belong to him.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.