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Sustenance Through the Years

Sustenance Through the Years

For years, I tried to take vitamins. Every vitamin I took made my stomach hurt. I wish I still 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 multivitamin 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 healthy.

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 daily with God and my Bible, preferably early in the day, is like a “spiritual multivitamin” 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, something about which I need to be reminded daily.

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. Although I read it several days ago, it continues to bring “spiritual nourishment” as I find additional ways to apply this simple truth to my ordinary days. 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.”

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 God, carried by God, sustained by God in just the way we need, in whatever our changing circumstances. “I am He,” is the reminder that he alone is God.

I found an old journal the other day that 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 20 years of knowledge and experience, I know that God answered my prayers…sometimes just as I hoped, often in ways that I never expected. God was with me all along. Now in another season of transition as I adjust to my empty nest, I am again grateful for the refuge of my never-changing God in the midst of my ever-changing life.

When I initially read Isaiah 46:4, 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 seemingly obvious ways, God sustains me by generously 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 God’s 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 God’s word, an insightful blog on just the right subject, a book recommended by three 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. We can do this together.” Whatever it is we need, God finds a creative way to provide. I think that is what this verse means in a practical way. We just have to watch for God at work.

Isn’t this good news? God never changes, even when my life does. God made me, and I am his. God knows what I need before I do, and God wants to help me. In fact, God delights in helping me…helping me is God’s favorite! If I believe this verse, and I do, God will continue to sustain me through every transition and even into my old age. Even, apparently, if I decide to fire my hair stylist and let my hair go gray.

This post was originally published on Kelly’s blog, “Grace Notes.”

About Kelly Johnson

Kelly Johnson is an author, speaker, and life coach with a passion for helping people live lives of courage, compassion and connection. She is the author of “Being Brave: A 40 Day Journey to the Life God Dreams for You. She leads a weekly Bible study at The Lamb Center, a day shelter for homeless and poor individual, where she also serves on the Board of Directors. She and her husband, Steve, are the proud parents of two young adult daughters, Alexandra and Brooke.

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