As today is the first of October, I decided to celebrate by painting and eating my own homemade apple pie tarts by the fireside (as in, I pretended I don't live in 70 degree Southern California weather).
My painting is in the "Whatever is Lovely" coloring book. It's a quote from Jennifer Dukes Lee, "God's magnificent plans disguise themselves as ordinary lives."
I chose to paint it because that's definitely resonating with me today. I had a great day leading worship at church. I am blown away by the things I see God doing in my life lately...because I know I am so ordinary.
What I read today though was FAR from ordinary. I think today was probably my favorite day thus far in this project. And I just want to literally write out some of the passage here, because I don't care who you are or where you are in life: you need to be reminded of HEAVEN.
"'See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.
Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.
They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build house and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.
They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent's food.
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,' says the Lord."
It's so beautiful and in plain language too!
But even for all its plain language, how is it so hard for us to wrap our heads around? For one, because there is probably SO much more to it that we can't even see. It's deep and rich with the stuff of God, the gracious and redeeming Master Storyteller.
But also, because it's describing a concept that we cannot imagine. This place, this state of being He's describing is something we could not even dream up. Because, right now, we are all too familiar with fear, disappointment, anxiety, pain, and sorrow...moment by moment by moment.
This passage struck a chord with me as I was just the other day discussing Genesis 3 with my friend over coffee. Go and read it! And then read the Isaiah passage again.
This passage in Isaiah is LITERALLY nearly word-for-word taking Adam and Eve's curse and REVERSING it. Right now, we are living in the already, not yet: Jesus has come and conquered the world already but we are not yet seeing everything the Father plans to do in this little "redeeming the world plan." Not yet because we are still living in the world of Adam and Eve's curse.
This passage in Isaiah is so wildly outside the box for our little heads to comprehend, because we are well versed in Genesis 3. We see and feel Genesis 3 everywhere.
But, as Paul said, REJOICE. Because already we can see Isaiah 65 everywhere. Already we can see God's goodness and know that "He hears us while we are still speaking." Right now, right now, right now, already.
I don't care who you are or where you are in life, you need to be reminded of Heaven.
"I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel;
and afterward You will take me into glory.
Whom have I in Heaven but You?
And earth has nothing I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Ps. 73:23-26).