|Photo image courtesy of Maciej Maksymowicz via 123rf.com|
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
“Pay close attention now:
I’m creating new heavens and a new earth.
All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain
are things of the past, to be forgotten.
Look ahead with joy.
Anticipate what I’m creating:
I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy,
create my people as pure delight.
I’ll take joy in Jerusalem,
take delight in my people:
No more sounds of weeping in the city,
no cries of anguish;
No more babies dying in the cradle,
or old people who don’t enjoy a full lifetime;
One-hundredth birthdays will be considered normal—
anything less will seem like a cheat.
They’ll build houses
and move in.
They’ll plant fields
and eat what they grow.
No more building a house
that some outsider takes over,
No more planting fields
that some enemy confiscates,
For my people will be as long-lived as trees,
my chosen ones will have satisfaction in their work.
They won’t work and have nothing come of it,
they won’t have children snatched out from under them.
For they themselves are plantings blessed by God,
with their children and grandchildren likewise God-blessed.
Before they call out, I’ll answer.
Before they’ve finished speaking, I’ll have heard.
Wolf and lamb will graze the same meadow,
lion and ox eat straw from the same trough,
but snakes—they’ll get a diet of dirt!
Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill
anywhere on my Holy Mountain,” says God.
~ Isaiah 65:17-25, MSG ~
Family life slamming into itself has had me thinking lately.
Our immediate and extended family have had a bumpy ride lately. As predictable as the Easter season is each year, it makes for a volatile cocktail with the convergence of complex family dynamics. Add to that the recent death of my mother's only living sibling as well as an unrelated, serious personal obligation deadline looming for another family member, and stress spills over in toxic fashion.
My mother's sister had reached the ripe old age of 90, only recently becoming terminal in her health struggles. We were told two weeks ago that the doctors did not expect her to make it to Easter. I dreaded her departure, concerned about how it would affect my mother, whose own health is extremely fragile.
Mother's deteriorating status made us come to a mutual agreement that last Thanksgiving would be her final holiday visit to our home. As much as she loves being with us, it just takes too much out of her physically to be able to enjoy outside holiday visits any more. Of course, this would mean a different kind of Easter for us as a family -- one I wasn't certain I was looking forward to with joy.
Meanwhile, as the deadline for the personal obligation crept closer, it was clear it would not be met. This would result in a difficult consequence, setting a boundary for everyone involved. The angst and the darkness were oppressive.
With anxiety and depression as managed, uninvited residents in our home, I had to tiptoe through each scenario being extra mindful of these "guests" in my children's lives. There is an extra weight on us as parents as we not only work through our own difficulties, but try to control their impact on our vulnerable children.
One by one these anticipated miseries began to occur. My aunt made her glorious departure for heaven a week prior to Easter. The serious personal obligation was not met and consequences were given. And our Resurrection Sunday marched forward in a completely different, awkward way.
NONE of it was as horrible as I had anticipated.
Don't get me wrong, there was plenty of sorrow in our midst this year. Yet, there wasn't the fracturing of family relationships or multiplying of difficulties that I had expected. Instead, God graciously flooded me with the peace that surpasses all understanding in new and pleasant ways.
This got me thinking...
How much WORSE is the anticipation of difficulty in our lives than what actually happens?
Parents like us live a constant cycling and recycling of that scenario of dread. The emotional apprehension strikes us with every doctor's visit. Each holiday our guard is up as we await some unsavory comment or mistreatment from a relative. The oppression of the unknown overshadows us as surgeries and IEP meetings loom. We move hesitantly forward as if traversing a minefield ready to ruin us with every advance.
The sad part is that most of those mines never even exist, let alone explode. It is our old wounds that make us so anxiously defensive, borrowing trouble. We pay little heed to Jesus' admonitions of Matthew 6, to our own detriment.
With every one of these dreaded situations, I learn with increasing measure to guard my heart and mind, trusting fully in Jesus. While it may feel like the end of the world at difficult times, I know better. I know that we are a people of REDEMPTION and RESURRECTION. In every situation God will either create great value out of a trial or transform it into something even better than we could have imagined. It is past time to start living that way.
PRAY: Holy Spirit, calm my anxious thoughts. I want to stop anticipating trouble and begin looking for how You will bring new life to our darkest situations. Thank You for blessing us with immeasurably more than we could ever ask, think, or imagine.