Where I live, 2015 ended with grey morning skies that led to a drizzly afternoon before bowing out with a gentle rain amidst fireworks.
If I were the superstitious type, I could think of this as a bad omen. From bad to worse, in a manner of speaking. And yet, as our family gathered to pray before bed, the one thing we each said was
Thank You, Jesus, for the rain.
…because the fireworks didn’t go overtime.
…because the videoke set-ups couldn’t be brought out of the houses.
…because the neighborhood quieted down a lot earlier than usual.
…because we can now sleep earlier than expected.
When the Holy One of Israel spoke the words that Isaiah proclaimed, He was promising His people deliverance before the catastrophe that would befall the nation happened. There’s a great possibility that none of those who originally heard Isaiah’s prophecies were still around when the disaster finally came to pass; much less would any of them have been around when the fulfillment of the promise started to unfold.
But the promise stood, and still stands. And it continues to be fulfilled. Because 700 years after Isaiah, Jesus, God in the flesh, made sure it would become a greater and everlasting deliverance, not just from worldly oppression, but from the true enemies of our soul: our sin, and our sinfulness.
My sinfulness. My arrogance. My greed. My fearful faithlessness. My proud insistence that what I want is what is best, and it must be done my way, in my time. My selfish attempts at obedience presented as an effort to “delight myself in the Lord” so I can demand that He gives me the desires of my heart. And what is it that I truly desire? Everything!
Everything but Him.
It is 2016 now. I was 16 when I made the decision that “accepting Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior” made sense.
Yet somewhere in the journey, this patient God eventually broke through my thick skull and gently showed me the truth about being a Christian.
He called me. From where I sat with my books in the university, planning my future, He let me sense His call, and I stood up to follow Him.
But why would He, the Almighty King and Omnipotent Creator, bother to call me?!
Because He knew that I need Him. Not to make my dreams come true. Not to solve my problems, or answer my prayers, or make my life comfortable.
I need Him because He created and designed me for Himself, to be in His presence, cradled in His arms, sheltered in His bosom. In no other place will I survive, much less thrive.
Only with Him.
Only through Him.
Only in Him.
And true to His word, He has started to do a new thing in, to, and through me.
He blazes a path through the wilderness of my mind, cutting down overgrowth, uprooting weeds that entangle, digging up rocks that trip, drying up marshy pits that trap.
He burrows through the wasteland of my heart, drilling, dislodging, unearthing, fracking, heading unerringly to the life He is flowing deep within to make it not merely a well of water springing up to eternal life, but to burst through the surface and overflow its banks until streams begin to flow.
Blazing. Cutting down. Uprooting. Digging. Drying up. Burrowing. Drilling. Dislodging. Fracking. Bursting through. Overflowing.
Yes, it is. It is violent, but it is NOT violating.
Jesus does not violate me. He does not molest my mind, nor rape my heart. I surrendered willingly. Perhaps I was not aware of all that it meant or would cost when I did, but one thing I am sure of:
My surrender is real.
I surrender as willingly as a bride thirstily surrenders to the strong passion of her captivated bridegroom, willingly urging him to break through, and joyfully receiving the life he sows into her as they become one.
The first morning of 2016 started out greyer, darker, colder, with stronger rain. But the sun broke through. Both the gloom and the light of today are greater than yesterday’s, because He is true to His word.
He is doing a new thing indeed.
And I will keep watching until I see it, and finally perceive it.
Happy New Year!