But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 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.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I have loved this passage in scripture for as long as I can remember. I loved it when I was in college and we sang it in the crisp air of the Appalachian mountains. I was covered head to toe with dirt from the construction ministry I was a part of...but I was also covered head to toe in the assurance that my God loves me...and He would be with me. He was with 19 year old Kathryn just like He is with almost 35 (cough cough) year old Kathryn. This verse has always offered me so much comfort because it doesn't say "IF you pass through the fire...or the river or the waters." It says WHEN you pass through these things, He WILL be with you. Problems and troubles in life will come...but He promises to get us through the fire and through the thunderous river. He even says we won't be harmed or over taken.
I actually shared this scripture at our little church last week. I told the story of my 19 year old self always wondering if I was going to have enough to make it....enough time to finish class work, enough gas to make it anywhere, enough money to pay my bills, enough love to forgive someone, enough courage to live my life the way He called me to. I just constantly wondered if my tank was full...if what I had was sufficient. I found myself constantly thinking things like..."I can't do this anymore" (insert your own *this*- be with people who hurt you, be sick, walk through the destruction of divorce, see good people be hurt, etc. everyone's *this* is different). Immediately after I shared about this verse and being able to keep going....God put a memory in my heart. I would like to share it with you....I promise I will tie it all together as best as I can:) But, you all know I can ramble.
***WARNING-This may turn your stomach.
On Memorial Day in 1994 ( I was almost 14), I was in a very bad boating accident. There was an explosion, battery acid, and lots of fire and the majority of that damaged my legs greatly. There was an explosion in the boat I was in...and fire ran down the backs of my legs. I was stunned and in shock. I stood there with flesh hanging from my legs....and the boat on fire...and I could't move. My brother was able to jump back in the boat and push me into the muddy lake water surrounding our boat. The smell of gasoline and fire filled the air. I knew I was in pain, but I couldn't process any of it...and by the time I swam to the pier, my brother was there waiting to pull me out. As we pulled me out, the grotesque smell of burnt flesh assailed my senses and the pain became real. I looked down at my legs and was horrified. There was flesh, angry and singed, hanging limply from all over my legs. I reached down and attempted to hold on to it all and I began to run. The both funny and profound thing about this story is that I clearly remember running down the pier...and I clearly remember crying and believing that I was paralyzed as I ran. I knew that the injuries were serious...and I knew that my legs should't be working....so I just immediately thought...I am paralyzed. I have always found this memory so humorous...but then last week...I cried out to God about a particular situation in our lives and I said " God, I can't do this. I can't go on in this situation" In essence I was telling God that I was paralyzed. And then God, being His truly infinitely wise self, brought the memory of my boating accident to mind...and this time when I remembered the bit where I thought I was paralyzed as I was running down the pier....God used it to show me something new....sometimes when we are in the middle of the fire...the rushing river...the tough parts of life, we cry out to God and say "GOD!! I can't do this. I am paralyzed!" But usually, in the midst of crying out that we can't....we are doing the very thing we say we can't do....as I was telling God that I was paralyzed...that I could't walk anymore...I was RUNNING! When I was telling God I couldn't bear a certain situation any longer...I was bearing...moving on...living because He was with me and He is with me!! That is good news for me...and I pray that it changes my perspective in the trials of life...when I cry out to God He is ALREADY there with me...When I tell Him I can't do this or that any longer...He looks at me and smiles and says...but you are doing that very thing right now. He says "You can because I am here- do not fear....I have redeemed you!!" AMEN!!
Side note-if you are interested in reading about my boating accident from my mother's perspective...you can here, she loves to write its in four parts:) You guys just thought I was wordy:) :