1 But now, says the Lord—
the one who created you, Jacob,
the one who formed you, Israel:
Don’t 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;
when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you won’t be scorched
and flame won’t burn you.
3a I am the Lord your God,
the holy one of Israel, your savior.
When I was a kid growing up in Pennsylvania, one of the most exciting days of the year was the first day of trout season. It would be early in the spring, usually still cold, when my Dad and I would get our stuff together and hop in his truck. A lot of times we’d drive 40 minutes or an hour to the fishing spot. I loved exploring new places with him. But it often meant stepping into waters you weren’t familiar with.
We’d use fly rods, so you had to wade out into the river to be able to get to where the fish were. Now, I was a skinny kid, not a lot of weight to me, and often in the spring the creeks would be VERY fast flowing. To make things worse, the bottoms were full of muddy, slippery rocks that made it tough to keep your footing. I loved getting out in the stream, but I always worried until I got my feet planted that I might get fall over and end up in the freezing water. (Fortunately, that never happened.) I would occasionally watch some of the guys wade across the creek to the other side. But I never dared do it, because I knew I could not stand in the fast current in the center.
There’s an old hymn with a verse that says: “When through the deep waters I call thee to go…”
Have you even been led out into waters where you weren’t sure if you could keep your footing? We’re often challenged by God – and even more often by life – to step into waters that don’t feel all that safe to us. We worry about slipping and getting swept away. We worry about being overcome by the cold and the wet and the muddiness of things that are uncomfortable and unfamiliar.
Isaiah reminds the people of Israel that God has promised to be with them. And God literally WAS with them when they were called to pass through the deep waters – remember the Red Sea?
The promise that God made to Israel is the same promise that’s been made to us. When we find ourselves up to our necks in a river that we don’t know if we can cross, the Savior is present with us too, holding our hands and leading us through.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you.” When the current is strong and the water is cold, that’s the promise we can hold on to.
by Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
What were some moments in your life that you would call “deep waters”? They may have been times you felt God calling you to something new, or they may have been moments when the circumstances of life brought you to your knees. How did you experience God in those times?
Prayer: Holy Jesus, when I am called to pass through deep and unfamiliar waters, even the waters I’m crossing right now, help me to trust that you are with me, and that you will never let me go. Amen.