Isaiah 49:1-7 (NRSV)
Chapter 49Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother's womb he named me. Verse 2He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. Verse 3And he said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified." Verse 4But I said, "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God." Verse 5And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength- Verse 6he says, "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."
Verse 7Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, "Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."
The words that stand out for me from Isaiah 49:1-7 are: “The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.” The words echo those from Isaiah 43:1: “I have called you by name; you are mine.” As was the prophet, so we have been named, claimed, and called in baptism. What does this mean?
1. When you are called names, whether from internal voices or those outside, say “I am baptized.” “You have called me by name; I am yours.”
2. When you struggle to find purpose, remember you are called to be a light to the world, to serve the needs of the neighbor, to be who you are—a child of God.
3. When it feels as though your efforts have been in vain, keep in mind that the prophets felt that way, too, yet God worked powerfully in and through them.
Dear God, thank you for calling me by name, making me your own and calling me to be a part of your people. Help me rest in your promises, be who I am as your child, and follow where you lead, remembering that I am called to be faithful, not successful. Amen.