Summer is slipping away so it’s important to take advantage of every day that the sun shines. Unfortunately, today is overcast, misty, and foggy and the weather forecast is for lots of rain. As a result, I’ve dedicated to catching up on my reading. I’ve spent most of the last few months studying commentaries on Galatians for the Digging Deeper portion of this blog so it will be nice to delve into some of the books I’ve set aside for just such a day as this.
I started reading a travel book entitled, Dogging Steinbeck because I am a fan of Steinbeck’s work and loved Travels With Charlie, his road book written in 1960 that took him into the heart and soul of America. Dogging Steinbeck is an effort by the author Bill Steigerwald to trace the journey and see what has changed and what has remained the same in America. The problem for Steigerwald is that much of what Steinbeck wrote in Travels With Charlie just didn’t happen.
It’s interesting how disappointed I was as Steigerwald discovered event after event that was only part of Steinbeck’s imagination. When I read Travels With Charlie many years ago I longed to do a road trip where I could ramble along at my own pace, seeing new things and having no one to answer to. I imagined I would meet interesting people who would enlighten me and encourage me on my journey. I have probably harbored that dream to this day, and then to find out that much of what I trusted was true was only fiction is a bit of a let down. Life is like that though, isn’t it? We think we can depend on someone to be honest and tell us the truth and when that person ends up not being what we had imagined, we are extremely disappointed and let down. I was also reading in Isaiah this morning and came across this text, “I have chosen you and not cast you off, fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41: 9b, 10
Here is a promise that doesn’t disappoint or leave us disillusioned. God says I have chosen you. God comes looking for us as illustrated in the stories of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son. But God does more than just choose us; He promises that He will not cast us out. Remember that great text in John 10: 28, “and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” But this is not all; God goes on to say in verse 10 of Isaiah 41, “fear not, for I am with you.” When the angel came and announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds he told them, “be not afraid; for behold I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2: 10, 11 The great joy of accepting the Savior into our lives is that we don’t have to be afraid any longer. God has cast our sins into the deepest part of the sea, our past forgiven and forgotten and our future assured. And all of these promises are assured because God says, “I am your God.” When we put our trust anywhere else we can be disappointed, but when we put our trust in God we are never disappointed.
Finally God says, “I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) God has won the victory for us at the cross. It is God who strengthens us, helps us and upholds us in our time of need. We can rest assured in the comfort of God’s promise that we are His and no one can rip us out of His victorious right hand. Yes, Travels With Charlie was a simple story about a man and his travels with his dog around America. But in the excitement of youth I came to believe in that dream and long for those adventures to be my life. But Steinbeck had simply made up many of the incidents in the book to make it more interesting and make some social commentary that he couldn’t have fit into the book otherwise. When I read Isaiah something inside me lit up. There was nothing made up, figments of imagination, or embellished in that one simple verse. In a handful of words God reassured me that I am chosen, loved, cared for, watched over and assured of salvation by the victorious right hand of God that was nailed to the cross at Calvary.