Jayla is expanding her vocabulary. I love teaching her new words and watching her little brain and mouth work, trying to mimic what we say. She’s already a pro at mommy (if you read my last post, though, you already know all about that). She can say daddy, too, and we’re working on her siblings’ names. There is one word that we’re trying to un-teach her, though. It does have four letters, but it’s not what you’re thinking. The word is mine. Like “mommy,” Jayla doesn’t simply say this word; she embraces the full power of it: her face, her voice, the word – it all screams, “back off!” Now, in response to her declaration of “mine,” we are trying to teach her the word “share.” However, when she clutches a toy close to her chest, scowling at the would-be-thief of said toy, I’m left with little hope that she’ll say “share” any time soon.
Jayla is teaching me something about the power of the word mine. The dictionary definition of this possessive pronoun doesn’t do it justice: “used to refer to a thing or things belonging to or associated with the speaker.” When Jayla says it, there is passion, desire, and a bit of a threat behind it. An almost two year old can can actually be mighty threatening. This is a more appropriate definition of Jayla’s “mine”: used to refer to something that belongs to the speaker, something that the speaker refuses to let go of, something that she has such a desire for that no one and nothing can pull it from her tight grip and love. Yes, that sounds more like it.
Jayla isn’t the only one teaching me about the power of this word. As I watch her cling to a toy, I also see God passionately clinging to me, saying “Mine!” In Isaiah chapter 43, the prophet wants the reader to understand that though we don’t deserve it and our sins anger our just God (explained in chapter 42), God loves us and claims us as his own. “But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you O Israel, the one who formed you says, ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine’” (Isaiah 43:1, my emphasis). Did you notice that? What word does God, the creator, use to declare his ownership of us? MINE. I can see him holding me, refusing to let go with such love and passion that he will fight even the devil to keep me close to him. Isaiah 43 is an amazing declaration of God’s love for his people. God’s love for you, who he looks at and says “mine.” This first verse doesn’t do the chapter justice, just like the dictionary definition of the word mine doesn’t capture its power. Isaiah 43 is a whole chapter written to define the power and depth behind God’s proclamation, “You are mine.”
I kind of want to just stop writing and put the entire chapter right here in this post, but I have something else I want to say about this possessive pronoun, so I’m going to give you this link and encourage – no, demand – that you click on it and read more about the power of God calling us his. Go…click…read…now. God’s word is far more powerful than anything I can write. You can finish reading my post later.
Did you read it? So amazing! Through deep waters, rivers, fire, oppression, God still calls us his. God alone is the redeemer, the forgiver who blots out our sins. It is such an encouragement to understand what the Lord means when he says, “You are mine” in verse 1.
Alright, back to my little Jayla who grabs a toy, hugs it to her chest and declares, “mine!” As you read in Isaiah, God picks us up, too, hugs us to his chest, and declares “mine!” Here’s the difference though – we are not some lifeless, brainless, soul-less thing that is stuck in little Jayla’s hands without a choice. No, God created us with free will. He gave us a heart, mind, and soul that allows us to make a decision whether to accept his gift of grace and salvation. Some outwardly deny God’s power and salvation; though he pulls them closer, they push away and refuse to allow themselves to be wrapped in his love. Instead of a loving embrace, it feels like a smothering grip, and they try to fight with everything they have. Others feel themselves being pulled close to the Lord and start to cling. Holding on for dear life, scared that one mistake will cause him to loosen his grip, and they will fall out of his grasp. The ones who try to check every box on a religion’s “to do list,” yet they still don’t feel safe, worrying that one missed duty, tithe, or church service will cause them to slip from his arms. Instead of a loving embrace, it feels more like hanging from a cliff with a white-knuckled grip. Then, there are those, who, when pulled tightly to the Lord’s chest and hear him say, “You are mine,” look up to his face in response and say, “Yes, Lord. I am yours. I accept your free gift of salvation and know that there is nothing I can do to earn this spot so close to your heart. I know I’m a sinner and that your love for me is so great that you sacrificed your son to pay my debt. I am yours and I want to give my heart, mind, and soul to you as I live to serve you and follow your will for my life.” That prayer, that admission alone, is the choice that keeps us pulled close to the Lord, savoring his loving embrace.
When God picks you up and declares “You are mine,” what is your response? How do you react? Make a choice today to rest comfortably in his loving embrace giving up the desire to fight, the desire to cling and please, and instead desire to submit to his will and serve him, to become who he created you to be.
Lord, my words cannot even express how grateful I am that you have called me to be yours. Thank you for the sacrifice of your son that makes this personal relationship possible. Father, I pray that those who are reading this understand what you mean when you say, “You are mine.” I pray that they understand the choice they have to follow you and that your Spirit leads them to accept your gift of salvation. Thank you for your word and the encouragement and instruction it gives us. Please help my choice to accept your love and will for my life to be evident in all that I do.