Grace mercy and peace are always for you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen.
What or who is so valuable in your life, you would give your own life away – sacrifice yourself – to protect them or to achieve your overriding goal? Isaiah 43 shows us a profound truth from the heart of the eternal Almighty God: each person on the face of the earth is precious and important to God. You are precious and important to God.
You are precious and important to God, first because you have been created by Him, gifted and beautiful for His purposes.
Recently our daughter Heather and her husband Greg had a new baby boy, Louie Robert Wencl. It was fascinating that in the aftermath of the arrival of this little boy, our daughter Heather felt compelled to apologize to the nurse in the delivery room. “I just want to say I’m sorry for the things I might’ve said during the intensity of the pain of labor and delivery,” she said. It seems that in the middle of her contractions she said, “I can’t do it. Just pull him out. Just pull him out.” And at another time she said, “I’m not sure how this baby is going to come out, but he’s not coming come out this way!”
We might laugh at what her pain-induced comments would bring, especially you ladies who have had the joy and privilege of giving birth to a child. But the truth is, this little child born to them resonates with the profound truth for the birth of every child – life is precious and important. It is God’s gift.
You are precious and important. The day you arrived, God sang in the heavens because you were born! You have a distinct and important purpose in the overall eternal plan of God. You are gifted for God’s purpose. You are as unique as the fingerprints on your hands. You are precious and important because God created you and gave you life.
Second, you are precious and important to God because He has redeemed you. If someone were to kidnap your child, your grandchild, or a dear friend, what would you give to get them back? What would you be willing to pay? We talk about redeeming a pop bottle or a pop can. That is, the original manufacturer of the bottle or can now wishes to redeem it back. God paid the cost to redeem you so you would be brought back to Him.
Implicit in the word “redemption” is the cost of being delivered from that which holds you back, from being reconciled. It also means a release from bondage. In the word, we understand what it means to be restored to our original intended purpose.
God has redeemed us, but at what cost? How precious, important, and valuable are you to God? He was willing to give His very own Son. Jesus, who was as all-powerful as God, willingly gave up His divine power, authority, and privilege to humble Himself. He came to where we are to sacrifice His life so we might be redeemed. Our sins and rebellion have been atoned at the cost of Jesus’ life. He bought our freedom.
Wouldn’t it be a paradox if someone paid the price for a person who is in prison to go free, yet the prisoner chose to remain imprisoned in the jail cell? God says you are precious and important by the blood of Jesus shed on Calvary’s cross. You’ve been redeemed. However, you are also free from the power of sin to live a new life and be restored to your original purpose.
The third reason you are precious and important to God is He has called you by name and declares you belong to Him. “You are mine,” He says.
Now the overarching truth of Jesus reconciling the world to Himself becomes specifically personal when God comes to us through the Holy Spirit. He whispers our name as He calls us to His love, into a relationship where, by faith, we share our journey of life with God day by day. We are not only redeemed, but we also are called by God the Father to belong to His family and live the journey of life belonging to God every day.
The fourth reason we are precious and important to God is He promises that through the turmoil of life, through the challenges of life when the water feels like it is going to drown us, or the fire of the intensity of suffering is most difficult, God says I will see you through, and I will be with you.
It’s critical to remember this fundamental principle of faith – we are precious and important to God – because the enemy of our soul – Satan – tells us the opposite. Satan tells us we are worthless and are of no significance to anyone. We are beyond love. But God reaffirms you as precious and important to Him. I have created you for my purposes and my glory. I have redeemed you at the cost of my Son Jesus Christ, and I have called you by name into a relationship of love in my family. You belong to me.
The fifth reason all people are precious and important to God in this passage is it reveals a big vision of God gathering us back to Himself in love. We can understand the application of this promise in many ways.
For the people of God who were living in exile after their defeat at the hands of Babylon, they were living in a foreign country under the control of a foreign nation, wondering if they would ever know what it is to come home again. They don’t know if they will ever have a relationship with God like they used to have the privilege of knowing.
God says definitively in a promise, “I am going to gather you back to myself from the north, from the south, from the east, from the west. All my precious people will be gathered back to myself.”
We can also understand this promise of God gathering us to Himself as the overarching continual call of God. By the work of the Holy Spirit, we believe our sins are forgiven and come back to God as our creator and Father.
Ultimately, of course, we would believe God has promised to gather us to our eternal home. Like Jesus said, “Don’t be troubled, I will come and receive you to Myself that where I am, you may be also” (John 14:3). God wants to bring us back so we would revel in His love and live life in the confidence that we are God’s people in this world.
In his book, Rebel With a Cause, Franklin Graham tells what it was like growing up as the eldest son of the world’s most famous preacher since Jesus. The expectations for Franklin were great. Rules were rigid, and by his admission, Franklin Graham was a rebel. Franklin rejected every value and virtue his parents stood for – including the Christian faith – in his youth. He ran from God and rebelled to the extent that he did almost every expression of immorality you can think of.
No scene in his book is more poignant than the day Franklin was kicked out of his conservative college in Texas for taking a coed off-campus for a week, piloting a rented plane, and journeying to Florida. Upon his return, he was expelled and had to go home to his parents. Here’s what Franklin writes in the book:
The drive home from Texas was dreary. Maybe by driving slow I was prolonging the inevitable; I would have to face my parents. I knew they had to be disappointed in me – I was! They had invested a lot of money in my education, and now I had messed up.
I drove through the gate and started up the road to our home imagining the lecture my parents would give me. So many other times when I’d come home I could hardly wait to say hello to everyone. But no joy this time. I felt so bad when I finally reached home. Then I saw mama standing on the front porch, and I wanted to run and hide in the nearest hole. It was one of the few times I can remember not wanting to look her in the eye.
When I walked up to her, my body felt limp. I barely have the nerve to lift my head or extend my arms for a hug. But I didn’t need to. Mama wrapped her arms around me and, with a smile, she said, “Welcome home, Franklin.”
Hear these words again from Isaiah 43:
“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, who formed you, I have called you by name. Don’t be afraid. I have redeemed you. You are mine. You are precious in my sight and honored and I love you.”
The love of God is a truth far exceeding understanding. Who can fully fathom God’s love for rebels? God says you and I are always precious and important to Him. We are so precious He was willing to give Jesus Christ, His Son, to die so we might be reconciled into a relationship with Him.
So today, God in the name of Jesus again says to you, Welcome home. God finds us wherever we are, wherever we have wandered, whatever we have done, however, we might have fallen, whatever state of brokenness or struggle or rebellion we are in. In the love that persists to invite, God offers you grace, the forgiveness of all your mistakes, failures, and sins. God offers you mercy and the joy of embracing the truth that you are precious and important to Him.
How will you respond? To not respond is to respond. Wouldn’t it be better if we all said again, Lord Jesus, I gladly receive what I don’t deserve? I gladly receive your forgiveness. Thank you for dying on the cross. I gratefully accept your mercy, and I ask you to come into my life and make me new. Amen.
Pastor Lee Laaveg