Footprints in sand at sunset, shoreline water B1452For years, I tried to take vitamins.  Every vitamin I took made my stomach hurt.  I wish I had all the money I have wasted on vitamins that I bought, tried, abandoned, stored in cabinets for months or years and eventually threw away.  I finally gave up.

A year or so ago, I found a vitamin that purported to be “easy to digest.”  Skeptical, I decided to try one more time.  Success!  This plant based vitamin delivers as promised and, in spite of the fact that they smell horrible, I take this multi-vitamin every morning.  Along with a prescription I’ve taken for years and a couple other supplements, ingesting a fistful of pills is now part of my morning routine.  My intention in doing so is that this practice reportedly contributes positively to me staying as healthy as I can be.

Reading scripture daily is another way that I attempt to take care of myself.  Through years of experimentation, I have found that spending a bit of time with God and my bible, preferably early in the day, is like a “spiritual multi-vitamin” for me.  A few moments in God’s word reminds me who God says He is and who God says I am in Him.  It also reminds me that He is God and I am not.  I need to be reminded of these things every day…especially the part about me NOT being God.

Two of my favorite ways to “play” with scripture or dig deeper into a familiar passage are to do one or both of the following:

  • read a particular passage in different biblical translations
  • look up the definition of a particular word that jump out at me.

Last week, I read a passage that has continued to come to mind as I have allowed it to marinate amidst the unfolding events in my life.  Found in Isaiah 46:4, this is the NIV translation.

Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am He, I am He who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

I won’t take time to share all the different translations here, but I would encourage you to do so.  If you click on the link, you can see this verse in a format that will allow you to use the box above it to try a variety of different versions.  Each translation is more lovely than the last and each offers a slightly different perspective that deepened my understanding.  I love that I live in a time when I even have access to websites like this one on my phone!

Isn’t this a beautiful passage?  As I think about the people in my life- my children, my nieces and nephews, my husband, my siblings, my friends and particularly our parents- I see God’s faithfulness to them, to all of us, in each stage of our journey.  Each of us made by Him, carried by Him, sustained by Him in just the way we need in whatever our changing circumstances.  I am He, the reminder that He alone is God.

I found an old journal of mine the other day which chronicled the final days of my pregnancy with my younger daughter.  A mom of a toddler, getting ready to quit work to stay home with my growing family, I talked about my fears, my joys and my prayers for that next stage of our life.  Looking back on that young woman with an additional 19 years of knowledge and experience, I know that God answered my prayers…sometimes just as I hoped, often in ways that I never expected.  Now in another season of transition, I have no reason to believe that He has changed.

When I initially read this verse, the word “sustain” jumped out at me.  Not a word that I use regularly, I decided to look up the definition to see what clues might be found about the way it is used in the context of this passage.  These are the definitions that I wrote in my journal:

  • to provide what is needed for someone to exist
  • to supply with sustenance or to nourish
  • to hold up the weight of
  • to strengthen or support physically or mentally
  • buoy up, carry, encourage, succor, support

In the obvious ways, God sustains me by providing for all we have and all we own.  I believe that the food on our table and the roof over our heads come from His grace and providence, in addition to our labor.  But even more, God feeds me and nourishes me in more subtle ways- through a passage from His word, an insightful blog on just the right subject, a book recommended by 3 different people, the silent beauty of the softly falling snow, or even a song on the radio.  God encourages, supports and buoys me up through perfectly timed words from a friend, a moment of joy in the midst of heartache or that small still voice within that says “I’m here, I love you and you are doing fine.  You can do this.”  Whatever it is we need, He finds a creative way to provide.  I think that is what this verse means in a practical way.  We just have to watch for Him at work.

Isn’t this good news?  He made me and I am His.  He knows what I need before I do and He wants to help me.  In fact, He delights in helping me…it is His favorite!  If I believe this verse, and I do, He will continue to sustain me even into my old age and apparently even if I decide to let my hair go gray. 🙂

And He will sustain and carry my sweet mother-in-love through this current difficult season.  I am hanging on to that!

Be encouraged, friend!  He will sustain you.  Tell us in the comments how you experience God’s sustaining love…