have you ever noticed how many images, throughout the Old Testament, portray God as a parental figure? not necessarily just as God the Father, but God as a parent, teaching his children to walk, raising them up in the ways they should go, and even scooping them up, off the side of the road, broken and abandoned, to call his own?
for some people, the parental image works, because they have had the experience of parents who love them and care for them. for others, it might be a bit harder to understand, but at the end of the day – the image of a God who reaches down to take his child by the hand, to teach him to walk, and who washes off the dirt and the grim from the orphan daughter, to call her his own…that’s beautiful.
our God is a God who cares, and loves, and who takes care of his children. sometimes this lesson has to be learned over and over again for us. (and of course, by us, i primarily mean…by me.) this past semester, i took a class on Isaiah and was so moved by the entire book, which paints a picture of judgment for sin, intermingled with portraits of hope – that a remnant will be restored, for his glory. that God is sovereign, no matter the circumstances.
God speaks to the Israelites and calls them to hope even as they look toward the looming exile and loss of their land. God has proclaimed over and over that he will judge his people for their unfaithfulness, and yet….he also tells him that he is using this for their own good, to bring a remnant back to himself. and so, beginning in Isaiah 40, God calls his people to hope in what is to come, and to know that the Lord is their maker, their God, a mighty king above all men and all gods! He wants them to find themselves in a place where they realize that he is their sufficiency and their strength, their only hope. i’ve been particularly struck by a passage in Isaiah 49, in which God compares himself to a nursing mother. can a nursing mother forget to feed her child, as the baby cries out in hunger? it happens, but probably not frequently. yet Isaiah notes, even though a mother may forget – God doesn’t forget his children. he doesn’t abandon them. in fact….he has engraved their names on the palm of his hands (v. 16).
these past few months have been a learning experience. actually, this past year has been a learning experience, to be honest. so many changes and transitions. and so many times, i have been tempted to wonder, in the back of my mind, if just maybe God didn’t know what he was doing. if he maybe had forgotten about me. i confess that i doubted, and didn’t trust, and couldn’t see the bigger picture.
and even though, at so many points, i have had so many doubts and fears and worries and concerns, God has proven himself so faithful. he often worked in ways i could not see…but he worked. i believe that he will bring good things out of the pain and suffering and sadness and even the changes, and that in all of this, he is using these things for his glory and to make himself known in my life.
i quit my part-time job this summer. it’s been the only job that i’ve ever had that i found to be really, terrible…difficult. and not a good fit, and hard. and so many other things. i quit because i had an incredible opportunity to work full-time this summer, at a place that i love. and so i did, and i took the chance, even though that would mean there’d be no job, come august. i’ve been searching and writing and editing resumes and continually checking job boards and wishing and hoping for something forever full-time, and finally…i decided to stop. i took the summer job. i quit sending in resumes. i stopped with the endless searching and worrying.
and tomorrow is my last day, at the summer full-time job (that i have loved!), because monday, i get to start another full-time job…that is permanent. i’m so excited to be able to join the staff at altadena valley presbyterian church as their receptionist and administrative assistant, and to love on their staff and church members, while still teaching and writing and living life with my community at mountain brook baptist church. of all the job scenarios and all the options and the offers that i turned down…and now, everything fits into place. i can stay in a city that i love a little longer, in a house that is truly home to me, and pay the bills and save for retirement and maybe even get my own cell phone plan.
i don’t tell you any of this to say, “Look at how great things worked out for me!” i say all of this, and am writing all of this, because sometimes i need to be reminded that God is a GOOD Father. that he does indeed take care of his children. that even though sometimes what he is doing may not make sense to me, and even though i might have doubts, he truly is in control and has a purpose, even for the pain and frustration and discouragement. the words of Scripture are a reminder of this. seeing his hand on my life is a reminder of this. and the cross is the truest reminder of this. if he did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us, indeed…how will he not graciously give us all things? if i truly trust him for his atonement and saving grace, to blot away my transgressions, how much more can i trust him with the mundane, everyday ups and downs of my life? with the big and small decisions, and the in-between? with jobs and choices and relationships? the Lord was faithful to his children in Israel. he delivered them from exile, not just by bringing them back home to Jerusalem, but by making his home among them. coming, in the form of an infant, to save the world – to draw all men to himself.
and this is the story that i find myself in – i come back, again and again, to a place of awe, in realizing that the God who loves me, and who calls me his own, has a much bigger plan in mind – and overjoyed that i can be a small part in a much bigger and more beautiful story. a God who loves his children, and who is their forever Father.