Last year, in lieu of Lent, a few people from our youth group committed to reading through the ENTIRE bible in 40 days. Yeah, I know. Anyway, I'm sad to confess that I didn't complete the challenge, I got stuck in the middle of Isaiah. Last year, my impression and take on Isaiah was that it was a boring book full of metaphors and prophecies.This year, not really in lieu of Lent, a single person (me) is trying to commit to finishing at some point this year. :) I am still in Isaiah but it is so much more to me this year. Although I didn't realize it until now, my spiritual growth has been exponential. I can't read through a chapter of Isaiah without underlining something. My updated take on the book of Isaiah is that it is a book full of promises from God to us, all of which demonstrate his love for us. Now, I know that we just got over Valentine's day and the lovey-dovey stuff from that. But, I feel the need to share and stress some of the verses that I've encountered throughout Isaiah and continue to encounter throughout the rest of the bible.
Before I do that, however, I want to share something that I heard at a girl's retreat a few years back. In a very nonchalant way, one of my small group leaders shared how she marks in the margins of her bible a heart whenever she reads of a verse demonstrating God's love for us. Then, whenever you are feeling down and need that reassurance, you can flip through your bible and find all of those little hearts. This is something that I've been using a lot through the past couple of years, but mostly these past couple of weeks. So, I've decided to start a series on this blog, where I'll be writing about the multiple verses that I find and mark with a simple heart.
The first verse that I've found reassurance in is Isaiah 43:4. "Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life." (NIV) I love this verse, but I feel like the MSG version really breaks it down and allows us to feel what God was saying. "That's how much you mean to me! That's how much I love you! I'd sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you." (MSG) Wow. It sounds like something from a Lifetime Movie or from a Disney fairytale. But, it's not. It's life and our creator is saying this. It's not theoretical. It's literal; the God of the universe has the world in his hands, he CAN sell the world for us and this verse says that He will! It's hard enough to think about Him giving His Son for us, but to think that he would sell the whole world or still give His Son even if I were the only one to be saved.
So, if you're ever feeling alone, or like nobody understands or loves you, remember this verse. God says that we mean so much to him that he would sell the world and trade creation for us to be with him. If that doesn't make you feel loved, I don't know what will. I encourage you to read Isaiah, or even just chapter 43 and look for all of the reassurance and love messages that God gives us through this book/chapter. Later on in the chapter he tells us not to be afraid, that he is doing new things in us, and that he remembers our sins no more. Share your favorite verses and thoughts from this chapter in the comments below! Tune back in next week for the next installment of I <3 You!