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Posts Tagged ‘Isaiah 43:25’

Jo 23I knew I had an excuse to feel a little exasperated. After all, the person I had just spoken to on the phone had changed the date for a particular speaking engagement twice already. Now here she was, asking yet again for some information I had already given her several times. I sighed, then later complained loudly about her to two members of my family.

‘I don’t know what’s wrong with this lady! She seems so confused and disorganised. Let’s hope this speaking engagement goes okay.’

I duly turned up on the day and yes, everything worked out. The group of people I spoke to were very attentive and responded well. I was also welcomed warmly by the lady I had hitherto only spoken to by phone or emailed—and found her charming and interesting. Before I was introduced to speak, she gave me a personal thank you gift—her way of apologising for the inconvenience she had caused by changing the dates twice. I felt embarrassed but she insisted.

Later, she wanted to purchase one of my novels.

‘Which one should I buy?’ she asked me in her beautiful, European accent.

After discovering she was Hungarian and had travelled to Australia as a migrant via Czechoslovakia, I suggested one of my novels featuring a Czech migrant. Yet, even as I did, my embarrassment deepened. Did she really want to read it—or did she feel obliged to support me after messing up our arrangements? As we chatted further, she told me this was the first year she had volunteered to be the speaker coordinator for this particular group and how hard she had found it. My heart went out to her and I assured her truthfully I would rather speak myself any day than coordinate a whole year of other speakers.

At that point, I began to sense God was teaching me a lesson I would not forget in a hurry about perhaps being just that little bit less judgemental of others. But worse was to come. When I arrived home and unwrapped her special gift to me, I found an unusual and quite lovely card attached. Then I read what this lady had written inside in her beautiful, copperplate handwriting:

To dear Jo-Anne

Thank you for your unconditional generosity towards me. Wishing you a Blessed Christmas and a safe and happy New Year. Love …

Now I felt completely humbled and rebuked. Unconditional generosity—when, in reality, I had felt so exasperated with her and had maligned her to others! If that was unconditional generosity, I’d hate to see meanspiritedness.

What a lesson from God for my life from such an unexpected source. And what an insight into God’s unconditional generosity to me—that same unconditional generosity I needed to have in my heart for this lady rather than condemnation. How gracious God is, not only in the big scheme of things but also in those gentle messages we receive along life’s path that call us to live and respond in a better way and to show that same love and acceptance to others we have been shown!

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Isaiah 43:25

Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12b

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Jo 23I’m sure I’ve managed to embarrass quite a few people in my life. I can recall several occasions when my parents ended up rather red-faced over something I had done. And I’m sure I can remember one or two times when my own children let me know how much I had embarrassed them in one way or another!

I’m also good at embarrassing myself. Now I can laugh more readily at some things I do and have done. But there was a time when I was much more sensitive and much more prone to feel ashamed long after I had goofed in some obvious way.

And I can certainly remember feeling ashamed when others have pulled me up about something I have said or done. As a young child, I hated to be disciplined in any way by my parents. It was altogether too embarrassing. When this happened, I would curl up in a ball, with my thumb in my mouth.

‘I’m not a naughty girl! I would wail as I sobbed my heart out.

I understand that sense of shame. It can become all-pervading and was something I had to deal with later in my life, with God’s help. But recently, I was given an entirely different insight into this whole experience of shame—from God’s own perspective.

At the time, I was reading through Hebrews 11 where the writer describes the exploits of brave and godly people in the past and how they were commended for their faith. There I was, enjoying being reminded of these stories when I came across a verse that shocked me:

Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:16

If God was not ashamed to be called the God of these heroes of the faith, I reasoned, then that must mean God could well have been ashamed of others who did not persevere. So could that happen now? Could that apply even to me? What a horrifying thought—imagine embarrassing God! Surely I could never do that.

But … what about the times I put other things before God in my life? What about when I dishonour God by not mentioning my faith? What about those occasions when I do not trust God will provide for me and give in to my doubts and fears? What about the way I so often live like an orphan instead of a much-loved child of the King? Could these things ever cause God to feel ashamed of me?

How wonderful it is that God is so forgiving of wayward, forgetful children like me and so gracious towards us all because of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf! How amazing it is that God continues to love me, at the same time as possibly feeling ashamed of my behaviour! How thankful I am that God is able to lift any guilt and shame off me and replace it with perfect love and acceptance—forever! As Isaiah 43:25 tells us:

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

I don’t want to continue practising the fine art of shaming God—do you?

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