Rescue Services

Fire, police, ambulance, coastguard – where would we be without them to rescue us when we were in trouble?

A neighbour with a spare key, someone to give us a lift when we’re stranded and run out of petrol, a gift from someone who knows we need it, that person who can lend us some money when we have nothing left, the person who shows us how to do something we can’t work out ourselves, someone to change a light bulb we can’t reach, the people who dig a path through the snow when we can’t…. the list could go on and on of things people do to rescue us day by day.  Some are small things, but mean so much to us; others are huge sacrifices and acts of service for the one doing them, but they do it to rescue those that need it.

Isaiah 49:1-7 (CEV)

The Work of the Lord’s Servant

49 Everyone, listen,
even you foreign nations
    across the sea.
The Lord chose me
and gave me a name
    before I was born.
He made my words pierce
like a sharp sword
    or a pointed arrow;
he kept me safely hidden
    in the palm of his hand.
The Lord said to me,
    “Israel, you are my servant;
and because of you
    I will be highly honored.”

I said to myself,
“I’m completely worn out;
    my time has been wasted.
But I did it for the Lord God,
    and he will reward me.”

Even before I was born,
    the Lord God chose me
to serve him and to lead back
    the people of Israel.
So the Lord has honored me
    and made me strong.

Now the Lord says to me,
“It isn’t enough for you
    to be merely my servant.
You must do more than lead back
survivors
from the tribes
    of Israel.
I have placed you here as a light
    for other nations;
you must take my saving power
    to everyone on earth.”

The Lord Will Rescue His People

Israel, I am the holy Lord God,
    the one who rescues you.
You are slaves of rulers
and of a nation
    who despises you.
Now this is what I promise:
Kings and rulers will honor you
    by kneeling at your feet.
You can trust me! I am your Lord,
the holy God of Israel,
    and you are my chosen ones.

The Lord, promises to rescue his people.  The people are in exile – but there is hope, they will be rescued and brought home.

But, it is quite clear that for that, God needs to use people.  It’s not quite clear to me whether this is still Cyrus, or someone in far more general terms, or it’s directly relating to The Messiah, or Isaiah himself speaking, but God has chosen someone to be his servant and to lead the people back.

What I find interesting is that, whoever this servant was, the task was not easy.  They were worn out and felt that they were wasting their time.  It is easy to get caught up in the belief that if we are serving God, or more specifically serving people in his name, then we will have a rosy glow of doing A Good Thing.  But that is not always the case.  Sometimes serving people is just hard work.  Because people can be difficult, ungrateful and not see what is best for them…

And then to cap it off, in verse 6, the Lord tells them,  “That’s not enough, you must do more”.  Perhaps they weren’t doing as much as they thought they were, or weren’t doing the right thing, what had actually been asked of them?  But the promise remains that God will rescue his people.

So what has this to say to me where I am today?

Well, it’s a comfort that others that have gone before have not always found it a joy to serve the Lord, but sometimes hard work.  That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re doing it wrong – just that it is a hard thing that those who are called to serve do (i.e. all of us!).  Sometimes it brings great delight, sometimes it is pure slog.

Sometimes what we do is not enough.  We do our best, and still there is more to do; or we mis-focus and our best misses the target.  Perhaps I need to be open to hearing that possibility.

And most heart-warming of all – it is not me who does the rescuing, but God.  Yes, we need to be a light to the world, we need to point the way and prepare a path – but it is God who does the actual saving of people – and in that I rejoice.

Thank You Lord,that you rescue me.
All those times
when I get into scrapes,
get myself lost,
feel I am drowning,
have run out of my own resources…

Forgive me Lord
when I don’t do enough
to help others,
or do the wrong thing,
or the right thing
in the wrong way,
or not the thing you asked of me.

Thank you
for rescuing the world,
each one of us,
even me

He Lifted Me

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