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 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.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honoured in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, “Give them up!”
and to the south, “Do not hold them back.”
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth –
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.’
Isaiah 43. 1-7
“The waters are indeed to the palate bitter, and to the stomach cold, yet the thoughts of what I am going to, and of the conduct that waits for me on the other side, doth lie as a glowing coal to my heart”. So says Mr Standfast as he approaches the end of his Pilgrim’s Progress. He goes from a faith in “God with us” to the God who says “I-am with-you” – close up and personal. Through the flood and the fire, theoretical faith is transformed into the real presence. We live by sight, not just hearsay. “He has held me, and has kept me from my iniquities” declares Standfast. Lent is not about mortification and misery; it is about about having the courage to hold the hand of the God who picks you up at your lowest point and carries you home without reproach.
Prayer: St Francis de Sales
“Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow;
the same Everlasting Father who cares for you today
will take care of you tomorrow and every day.
Either He will shield you from suffering
or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace then,
and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”
Peter Moth is an active retired URC minister
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