When was the last time you received a love letter? In this digital age we don’t really write letters anymore, do we? It’s all been replaced by text. I don’t know what it’s like in other cultures but in our culture here in Northern Ireland we aren’t exactly known as the most Romantic. I remember one Valentines Day a couple of years ago, our local news ran a fun report; a roving reporter went out into the streets and asked dozens of men how they celebrated Valentines Day with their wives and girlfriends. Admittedly there were a few (very few) who were quite romantic. A lot admitted that they struggled to know what to write in a card so out of embarrassment they just didn’t bother. Some were just plain hilarious – confessing that they went on the morning of Valentines Day to buy flowers because they were half price.
Did you know that God wrote a love letter? It’s addressed to you! It’s not a soppy, romantic love letter. It’s the love letter of a father to a beloved child. Of a redeemer, for the one He has rescued. It’s the kind of love that lays down one’s own life in exchange for the one that is loved. It’s the kind of love that can’t be bought or won because it’s given freely.
Isaiah 43 is one of my favourite chapters in the Bible. There are other books and chapters in the Bible that speak of God’s great love for us, but what captivates my heart in this chapter is the way God speaks in the first person through Isaiah, declaring His deep, undying love for you and for me.
If you are feeling a little discouraged, disconnected, lonely, afraid or sad this morning, try this exercise. Read through Isaiah 43 slowly, meditatively, focussing carefully on each verse. In the verses where it says “Israel”, put your own name in. Read it as God’s Love letter to you.
“But now, O (your name), listen to the Lord who created you.(Your Name), the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you”. Isaiah 43:1-4