“Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Before I worked on the tennis staff here at Greystone in the summer of 1994, I also worked at Frontier Ranch – a Young Life camp in Buena Vista, Colorado. I served on the ropes and rappel summer staff at Frontier for the month of June. One of the joys of working on the ropes staff was the thrill of overseeing the V-swing.
Imagine a 40 foot tower straddling a mountain ravine with a little creek running down the middle of it. Two people, side-by-side would be strapped into their harnesses, step off the edge of the tower and plunge straight down 40 feet until the steel cables which formed the swing would pull tight and propel them upwards. Some of the most exciting times would be the night swinging parties the staff enjoyed in between the sessions of the camp. There was a light in the roof of the tower that helped us make sure that all the safety precautions were taken care of, and when the swinging tandem would step off the platform, I would turn off the light as they plunged into darkness, felt the swing catch them tightly, and swing them up into a canopy of stars overhead that only Colorado can afford.
One particular evening, I had sent several groups on the swing, and as I turned to go back to the middle of the tower, something brushed my arm and caused me to jump. At that instant I realized that what I was brushing up against was, in fact, my safety line, I was wearing my harness, but I was not tethered into the tower at all. I was absolutely vulnerable, insecure, and unhooked.
I freaked out – not because something bad happened but because of what did not happen. Standing on top of a 40 foot tower in the pitch black dark with no safety line to catch me, I started grabbing whatever I could to hang onto to give me a sense of safety.
Some of you are right there with me. You know what it is like to feel alone, vulnerable, untethered in your life. You understand what it is like to grab onto anything you can in order to get a sense of security and meaning. Your life is at times dark and dangerous. Perhaps a friend that you trusted has turned her back on you. Perhaps there is strife in your family and you wonder if God even knows how much you hurt, how terrified you are for the future and the present.
God’s people, Israel, knew exactly what it was like to be vulnerable and insecure. Due to their disobedience and refusal to embrace the covenant in their hearts, God disciplined them as a loving heavenly father. And because of their own sin and their circumstances that resulted from their sin, they began to wonder if God really could be trusted, if God cared about what was going on in their lives.
In response to this reality among his people, God speaks tenderly to his treasured possession. And through Isaiah he communicates to them exactly how he feels and how he is acting to them and for them.
What does God want his people to know in the midst of their darkness and insecurity:
Today we have the chance to focus our eyes upon our failures, our temptations, our sin, or we can rest in the gracious, firm, fixed grip of our God who holds us in such a way that not even our sin and failures can separate us from His righteous right hand!