Called by Name

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:1-3a)

My dad told me the story of a young girl (let’s call her Jane) who was at a pool with her older brothers and her mom. Jane was afraid of the water, so she played along the edge. Meanwhile, her brothers incessantly teased her: “Come on, Jane!” “Don’t be chicken!” “Go on into the water. It’s not so bad!” “Are you a scaredy cat?” Jane’s mom watched for some time, then she decided to try something. She stepped down into the water and called, “Jane, come here. Come to Mommy!” Slowly, Jane got up and stepped into the water. Only a short time later, Jane was splashing and enjoying the water together with her mom. Jane’s brothers were confused, “Why didn’t you go into the water when we told you to?” Jane’s response was simple, “You told me to go. Mommy told me to come!”

At the time when Isaiah 43 was written, Israel needed help. They were surrounded by enemies, north and south, who wanted to see them destroyed. Much like Jane, they were afraid. God’s word to them was simple. First, God reminded them who He is: “the Lord, he who created you…” Second, God reminded Israel who they were: “I have called you by name, you are mine.” Then, God added His promise: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” God called Israel. He called them by name. He called them redeemed. He called them chosen. He called them forgiven.

You see, God does not call us to go to a place where He has not already been. Jesus knows what pain is like; He suffered on the cross. He knows what loss is like; He closest friends abandoned Him. Still Jesus calls you by name and says, “Come!”