Always With Us

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you 
are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
Isaiah 43:1-3

Around the holidays we inevitably start seeing helpful news stories on how to deal with our families at social gatherings. How to handle the uncle who drinks too much.  What topics not to bring up around your opposite political leaning parents.  And yet we still attend these family events.  Why? Because they are our family and we still love them.  It’s amazing what we will put up with when it comes to family.  

That idea of “blood being thicker than water” keeps us closely tethered to our loved ones.  It reminds me of those pre-school ropes with little fabric rings the children hold on to so they don’t wander off and get lost.  The teacher admonishes the children to grab hold of their ring tightly so the little family stays together.  And if Jimmy gets distracted and starts to head in a different direction, the group pulls him back in.

Now imagine God as our head of household.  He provided the roof over your head, the food for the feast and the gifts about to be received.  He created that uncle, your parents, and even that really weird cousin.  And He calls you His child.  He calls us to grab hold of our place on His family rope so we don’t get lost.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, 
neither slave nor free, nor is there 
male and female, for you are all 
one in Christ Jesus. If you belong 
to Christ, then you are Abraham’s 
seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:28-29

We drink too much.  We gossip.  We steal.  We withhold forgiveness and mercy.  We look to the world for guidance.  We work so hard to let go of God’s tether and yet He sticks with us.  He still shows up.  He never leaves us.  We are his. He is Immanuel — God is with us.

I was reading a prayer by Charles Spurgeon called “The Presence of the Word.”  He describes God’s Holy Word as always being with us.  The divine teachings through the Bible are at our fingertips, on our mind and at the ready whenever we need Him.  

“Oh, let it (Your Word) be in us a living seed that will produce in us a life acceptable before God…..Lord, we ask that your Word may chasten us whenever we go astray.  May it enlighten us whenever for a moment we get into darkness.”

Charles Spurgeon

If we make the mistake that the Bible was written long ago and has little or no connection to our life, we have attempted to untethered ourselves from God.  He is always with us through His living Word.  The Bible is meant for us right now — to be His constant voice and sense of being part of His family.  

My son, keep your father’s command
and do not forsake your mother’s 
teaching.
Bind them always on your heart;
fasten them around your neck.
When you walk, they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch 
over you;
when you awake, they will speak 
to you.
For this command is a lamp,
this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
are the way to life.
Proverbs 6:20-23

When we keep the Word of God tethered to our heart and mind, He is sure to be always with us.  You might say, “I’m not good about memorizing scripture.”  But here’s a little secret: So much of our lives are already seeped in God’s Words and commandments.  We can all probably list a few of the 10 commandments right here and now.  And if we were to stick with those the rest of our lives and truly follow them, we’d be closely tethered through eternity.

But His Word has so much more wisdom and comfort available to us.  The first verse I truly memorized was:

Be still and know that I am God.
Proverbs 46:10 

And it’s funny.  As soon as I decided to try and remember that verse it started popping up everywhere!  God was with me, guiding me, encouraging me to remember.  Like a parent cheering on a baby taking her first steps.

He promises to never leave us.  We were called to Him by name.  We are His.  And when we feel the pull of that blood to bring us back home, we need to show up — be the other half of the covenant.  Our family is not complete without you.

Therefore go and make disciples 
of all nations,baptizing them 
in the name of the Father and 
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 
and teaching them to obey everything 
I have commanded you. And surely I 
am with you always, to the very end 
of the age.
Matthew 28:19-20

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