Isaiah 43:20-21 “I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.”
In God’s hands, you are the spiritual equivalent of a work of art. When he says that we are people he formed for himself, he speaks of the kind of forming a potter does with his clay. With his own hands he carefully molds and shapes his work until it is just the right shape and will serve just the function he intends.
In one sense, all of the people on earth are the work of God’s creation. But when he speaks of “my people, my chosen,” he is referring to those in whom he is carefully forming and shaping their faith. We are all still works in progress. None of us has fully taken the shape that God wants us to have. But he continues to work with this material to get it to express just the message he wants.
When an artist creates some piece, he is trying to do more than make something look pretty. He wants it to communicate a message. That is also God’s intent with the people he has formed for himself: “that they may proclaim my praise.” When a Hebrew thought of praising God, he was not thinking primarily of emotional outbursts. Praise transcended how God made him feel. His very word for praise suggests that he was going to tell a story. Something very important had happened, and he was going to tell about it.
You have a story to tell, a story that praises God, too. Right now God is forming and molding your faith so that you can tell it. He is molding and changing your behavior, so that your life tells the story of his impact on it. He is molding and changing your Bible knowledge, so that your mouth can tell others the story of God’s grace. He is molding and changing your heart, so that you have the courage to open that mouth and live that life and let the story come pouring out.
The last verse of the old gospel hymn “I Love to Tell the Story” closes this way, “And when in scenes of glory I sing the new, new song, ‘twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.” The new song of heaven is about the old story: Christ’s love for us. It goes back thousands of years, but for those who have drunk from its waters and experienced its life-changing powers, it remains ever fresh, and ever new. May we always love to tell that story, too.