For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.
Isaiah 41:13 NLT
This morning, our family got up early and exercised with weights together for our first time. My daughter and wife cleaned out and organized the room yesterday so that we would be able to use it as an exercise room again. My wife helped encourage me out of bed this morning, and I encouraged my daughter awake. After we gathered in the basement workout room, I helped teach them proper technique for each exercise as we focus on our arms this morning. Today was a restart for another one of our old, good habits that had fallen out of practice. And we have been helping and encouraging each other in many ways to get back to having these good habits consistently a part of our lives.
As much as we are trying to help ourselves and each other, we fail each other at times. And sometimes circumstances occur where we aren’t physically nearby in order to be able to help each other. But God is with us. He holds our hands, and He is here to help us.
I think the most helpful part of the verse though, is the “Do not be afraid.” Our family just went through a season that was very difficult and where we saw many good habits torn down by circumstances. We saw people (both family and friends) that were by our side and a regular help and encouragement leave our daily lives because of so many different reasons. And our own attention and focus and time shifted to meet the wide array of challenges, needs and distractions so that we were no longer razor ficus in purpose and direction, but were seemingly pulled in many directions. I even saw my prayer, my worship, my time in The Word become affected as my focused shifted away. But you know what, God was still there with me. He wasn’t surprised by it, He wasn’t jealous and indignant about this season. He didn’t hold it over my head to demonstrate yet again why I don’t deserve Him. He is here to help me, not tear me down.
Yesterday, I got to eat dinner with my dad at Capri’s Italian while he was back in town. Since they now live in Myrtle Beach, I hadn’t gotten to spend time with him on Father’s Day, so I really just wanted some time together with him — just to spend time together, and to remind him how important he is to me. My parents help us so much, and we rarely get to help them. In fact, it is practically impossible for us to ever pay for a meal when we are with them. But dad had to go to the restroom during our dinner, and I quickly gave the waitress my card and paid for dinner while he was unaware in the restroom. After he came back and we finished eating, he pulled out his wallet and as I told him, “You don’t need that.” He smirked that familiar smirk and I’m sure the decades old and familiar back and forth of me trying to offer and him insisting to pay was warning up in his mind. But I had already taken care of it.
I wonder if our praise and worship is sort of like that to God? He doesn’t truly “need” anything from us. And anything we have to offer Him in return isn’t going to impact His worth or value. And He is the giver of his gifts. So even when we offer what little, relatively insignificant good gift we have to offer him — we are really just trying to emulate back to Him what we have seen Him do for us our whole lives.
Lord, thank you for your consistency, your faithfulness, your unending love and mercy towards us. Help our lives to be a loving worship full of the fruit that you so abundantly give to us freely and generously. Amen.