Signposts: Daily Devotions

Tuesday, January 13

Thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.
—Isaiah 43:1,2,4a

Whatever our faith tradition, most of us have a favorite piece of sacred writing.  This is mine.  I first heard it read at a Roman Catholic silent retreat, where I, not a Catholic, had gone during a very bad time in my life.  When the priest read the Isaiah passage, I remember feeling a large lump in my throat.  That night, I found the passage in my Bible and let the words sink in.

What I heard that night, and continue to hear, is that God knows me – even my name – and loves me.  I am precious in God’s sight.  Please note the present tense: God knows and loves me now, as I am.  This love is not conditional.  I do not have to do or be anything special.   

For someone who thought that love was a by-product of good conduct or accepting responsibility, this was a revelation.  No wonder I was moved to tears.  I had finally heard something that penetrated the wall of self-reliance I had built up.  It was okay to be scared and sad.  It was okay to be powerless and vulnerable. 

“When you pass through the waters, I shall be with you, and through rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned.”  Those words have stayed with me these thirty years since the retreat.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that they changed my life profoundly for the better.  Perhaps they will have that effect on you today. 


Gracious and almighty God, help us to know that you love us unconditionally. Soften our defenses and open our hearts to accept your loving presence with us at all times and in all places. Amen.