It started with a Bible verse. The verse is Isaiah 41:10:
"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."I have a history with this verse. This is the verse God spoke to me as comfort when I was pregnant with a baby I didn't plan and doctors told me he may not survive. God breathed new life into these ancient words in order to give me comfort and stability in a very difficult time.
Recently this Bible verse has been stalking me.
My husband was waiting to hear if he would be one of the thousands of Caterpillar employees to be laid off last week, and a close friend of mine sent me a text of prayer and encouragement. She said Isaiah 41:10 was the verse God had given her for this situation. It made me smile because it was God's way of reminding me of His faithfulness before. I smiled and whispered "I love you too, God."
But then the verse kept showing up. In a Bible study. In a devotion. On the radio.
Do you know what my response was? FEAR! God said, "Don't be afraid," and I got very afraid! As I was driving and the sugary sweet radio announcer read the familiar words from Isaiah, I nearly crashed my car as panic struck me. I suddenly realized that God must be warning me about some impending terrible situation.
My word. I can't make this stuff up. My first reaction was fear with a panic chaser. To the words of the living God speaking directly to me: Don't. Be. Afraid.
It's like when someone says, "Don't look!" You immediately look, right?
Or a phone call saying, "First of all, don't worry; everyone is ok. But..." I clutch my chest and shrilly ask "What happened?!"
But as I gripped my steering wheel as tightly as the panic gripped me, I thought for a moment about what was happening. And I cracked up. Driving along alone in my car. I laughed with my nose crinkled and my teeth and gums bared. God pursued me with words of comfort and I freaked out.
Only someone like me--or most members of the female gender--could take something so simple and make it complicated. God sent me a simple message and I read so far into it that I lost the original words. I found some mystical hidden message and assumed I must be on the crumbling ledge of tragedy.
But you know what God was actually saying to me? Don't be afraid. I'm with you. Don't be discouraged. I'm your God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I hold the ultimate victory in my hands, and I'll hold you in those same hands.
What precious words. And my poor, persistent God had to tell me a good three or four times before I heard Him. I picture Him in my head as a hand-drawn character from the Sunday comics, sprawled out with squiggly lines coming up from His head, exhausted from His task. But I also think He got a good laugh with me.
So please hear God and take Him at His word. His actual words, not the ones you fear could be wrapped up in dark clothing hiding behind the message. Hear Him tell you that He's yours, and He will hold you, and He wants to share His victory with you and be your strength.
And it doesn't hurt to laugh at yourself every now and then.