You are Mine!

One of the climax moments of my encounter with God under the rubble (as recounted in Unshaken) came in the first hours after the quake. After I had settled into my elevator car and attended to my wounds, I tried to assess the gravity of my situation. Things did not look good.

I was on the lobby floor of a six-story hotel that had completely collapsed, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince after a significant earthquake that surely must have leveled the city, in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. No one outside of Haiti knew I was at this hotel. And I was staring at wounds on my leg worse than any I had ever seen. There was no way I could find my way out of this place, and I doubted anyone could really find me. Death here seemed likely.

So what would come next? As I examined my heart and my relationship with God, I knew it was a far cry from where it should be, what I believed a disciple-relationship with God should look like. It is not a good thing to be facing The Big Conversation with God, and not feel comfortable with where you stand. But I knew that God, in his grace, always accepts a contrite heart, so I came to him in humility begging for forgiveness for leaving him out of my life in many ways, for giving him some kind of lip service rather than all-heart service in recent months, perhaps even years.

At the end of a time of prayer and contrition, I heard distinctly God’s voice saying, “You are mine!”

And for me, that was all I needed. His grace was truly sufficient, despite my unfaithfulness, despite my flakiness and failures. God had chosen me as his own, and he was reclaiming me, right here and now. I wept like a baby for some time.

One morning a few months after my rescue and return to the states, I was reading through one of my favorite passages of Scripture, Isaiah 43. The latter part of the chapter had meant a lot to me during a difficult time in college, and on this particular day I started reading from the beginning to gain context.

But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name;
you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
There it was, right in the middle of this passage I had read many times before—God’s words: You are mine! And as I read it here, I felt that God was telling me the full context of what he had been saying to me under the Montana. “I have redeemed you.” Yes, that was surely part of his message that January night. “I have summoned you by name.” Yes, that is how I understood our relationship—the relationship God has with every believer.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,” etc. Through these examples of calamity, God was promising his protection, though I knew that protection might not be limited to physical protection in life, but could include death and transport to heaven. Yet how comforting it was to find that God’s words to me in that most vulnerable moment of my life had such a profound promise of his love, his choosing, his presence, and his protection.
And the rest of my journey under the rubble for the next sixty hours or so showed me that love, that presence, and that protection. I will never be the same!