We were thinking yesterday about the difference between what God does for us and who He is for us, and it did feel a bit like splitting hairs, but as I was writing and chewing it over I realized how important that difference could be. I think, in fact, we inadvertently stumbled on something very good yesterday. Something else for which we can unreservedly thank the Lord. It’s the possessive pronoun ‘MY’.
Firstly if we take the example of a child needing some food; if this was at school, a canteen worker could provide that food, knowing very little about the child, a parent at home would, however, provide food ‘knowing’ what the child needed in terms of the size of their hunger, their likes and dislikes, their allergies, their nutritional needs etc. It would be ‘personal’.
Secondly, the child, if old enough, would know that the canteen worker at school was paid to do that job, their relationship with that person would probably be limited to those meal times, and while there may well be a friendly connection, it would still be based on their job, i.e. what they ‘do’ for the child. The parent would not just be supplying a meal because it was their job, but because of their relationship with the child. For the mother or father, the providing and sharing of food would be just one part of a much deeper relationship. The shared meal would be just one contributor to the love and closeness that was shared between them.
We heard this story from someone who had fostered a child. At the meal table they noticed that the child would be secreting away food, storing it up for later. He was clearly taking care of himself, unsure whether there would be any more food provided. The biological children of the family had no need to do that. They, being secure in the family, knew that Mum and Dad would make sure there was more food coming, as and when needed. So the third point is that when provision of something is part of an ongoing relationship, there is not that need to be vigilant, or fearful. The child of the family, is secure in the relationship, and not just in what Mum and Dad ‘do’.
To make that shift into a secure place with our heavenly Father, the shift from having an orphan heart to knowing ourselves to be a well loved child of God, the shift into being secure in who He is for us, and not just in what he does for us ‘because he’s God and it’s His job!!!, we can use the wonderful possessive pronoun ‘MY’. This will help us to recognize every day of our lives who God wants to be for us, and this in turn will bring us to a place of more confidence and less doubt. It will bring us to a place of more peace and joy in our walk with Him. It will be an antidote to our fears and anxieties that He might not be there with us, or for us, at some point of need in our lives.
Practically speaking this means joining David in his confessions, ‘the Lord is MY shepherd, I shall not be in want’, Psalm 23:1. And what about this one – ‘The Lord is MY strength and shield; MY heart trusts in Him, and I am helped, MY heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song’. Psalm 28:7. We might even need to personalise the Lord’s prayer and because we are His children we can say, ‘MY Father who is in heaven…’. He’s not just Father to all the believers, He’s my Father. It’s personal!
We are often taught when we become Christians that Jesus is now MY Lord and Saviour, we know that has got to be personal, but maybe we forget to personalise His other attributes. Jesus is MY Emmanuel, so that wherever we are and whatever we are doing, He is with us. Jesus was known as ‘a friend of sinners’ Luke 7:34, well that makes Him MY friend, even when I fail or mess up. Likewise we can put MY in front of any of the names of God, and thank Him that He is MY Healer, MY Provider, MY Righteousness, MY Deliverer. The truth is that whatever I need is found in Him because I am His child. I am not just someone He ‘does’ things for, I am in His family.
This resonates for me with the conversation that Moses had with God at the burning bush. Exodus 3:13,14. Moses wanted God to give him His name, so that he could tell the Israelites who had sent him to them. God does not describe Himself for example as ‘The Warrior God, who will defeat the Egyptians for you’, He doesn’t give a name that explains what He is going to do for them, but in response to the question “What is His name?”, He says “Tell them I AM WHO I AM. You are to say to the Israelites I AM has sent you.”
The literal translation of this phrase carries with it a present continuous sense, I AM WHO I AM and I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE. There is here a real sense that God will be for us, His children, whatever we need Him to be, within the broad reach of His character, that is His goodness, His faithfulness, His righteousness, His kindness, His love for us etc, etc. Every time God gives Himself a name in the scriptures, He is telling us who He wants to be for us.
If we can use that pronoun ‘MY’, and thank Him that that is who He wants to be in our lives, we will, I believe, grow stronger in our faith, and closer to our Heavenly Father every day. So today Lord, I want to thank you that you are MY Wonderful Counselor, MY Mighty God, MY Everlasting Father and MY Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6.