It had been a difficult day at school and I felt lousy. I loved my primary 2 class but I wasn’t a great teacher. In my enthusiasm I would get the children too excited and then I’d struggle to calm them down. Today they had run amok; I had lost my temper to no avail and was now angry and disappointed with myself.
A few months before, Jesus had come into my life, but today felt like the honeymoon had ended. It was dusk as I walked through the centre of town, wallowing in my sense of failure. Cars were waiting at the traffic lights, and as I approached the lights turned green. The cars sped off and a hand waved to me out of a window. A loud voice called out, “I was at your baptism!”
These words changed everything! Suddenly I remembered whose I was. Once more there was a spring in my step. I belonged to God. I’d been baptised into the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He had put his name on me and I was dearly loved. That was over 40 years ago but a key lesson in my walk with God.
The Blessing of God
In the Old Testament Aaron the high priest would offer the sacrifices and bear the names of the tribes of Israel upon his breastplate into God’s presence. Aaron would come back out to the people and announce God’s blessing on them. A threefold blessing:
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord shine his face upon you and be gracious to you,
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
With this blessing God put his name on the people of Israel (Numbers 6:22-27).
Fulfilled in Jesus
How we need to know this blessing in these difficult days. And we can! Jesus is both our high priest and our sacrifice for sin. He was cursed and abandoned on the cross that we might be blessed and kept (Galatians 3:13). God turned his face away as Jesus became our sin, that we might know his smile upon our lives. Bask in his smile and receive his peace.
Don’t turn away from him. Look! The lights are green and he’s calling to you loud and clear,
“Let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely!” (Song of Songs 2:14).
Our names are written on his nail-pierced hands as he intercedes for us before the Father.
Green light thinking
Psalm 67 echoes the Aaronic blessing and tells us this blessing of God is to be passed on, so that “your way be known on earth, your saving power among all nations” (Psalm 67:2). And, of course, this echoes the call of Abraham who was blessed to be a blessing (Genesis 12:2-4).
It’s hard to imagine being a blessing to others when we are living such restricted lives during this pandemic. We can easily focus on all the things we can’t do instead of seeing the things we can do. A bit of creative green light thinking is needed, for there are new things to learn and new ways to reach out. Perhaps to know a green light to go for God, we need to ask him,
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation!” ( Psalm 51:12).