Monday, July 24, 2017
Recovery and Holiness
Is. 41:19 I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive;
I will set in the desert the cypress,
the plane and the pine together,
20 so that all may see and know,
all may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.
The words of Isaiah were an encouragement for those who were suffering in exile. They were praying and dreaming about the day in which they would return home. Now, there comes a promise of recovery for God’s people. On their return there will be water in the desert, but also shelter where there would normally be none. The trees mentioned are those which grow tall and offer lovely shade from the heat of the day. It would have been uncommon to find them in the desert but this was God’s promise of care and provision for those who would be recovering from their time in exile. All of the needs of God’s people would be supplied.
The promise also foreshadowed a time when God’s people would be filled with the Holy Spirit, and they themselves would become the trees growing in the desert. Within the dry and barrenness of this world, God’s holy people grow up like strong trees that would not normally belong. Watered by the presence of the Holy Spirit, God’s holy people provide shade and protection for those who are suffering. The promise is for recovery from suffering for the Israelites, and the vision of holiness which reflects the hope of Christ in Jesus followers to an entire world which is suffering. The promise provides hope for all of humanity then, and now.
We are invited to lean into both of these promises of God. For those who are suffering and finding themselves in a place of exile, God promises relief. That relief comes in the form of spiritual water which refreshes our soul. No matter the circumstances in a dry and barren land, there is refreshment which comes from the Lord. The promise is not for sustenance on a minimal level, but enough for complete and total recovery.
God wants to restore in ways that may be beyond our comprehension. The Lord takes our broken lives and transforms them into a new and beautiful life through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. When we have been wounded, God brings healing and refreshment. There is no need to hang onto the past or allow the wounds to fester. We are all wounded and live with the scars of life. The promise of the Holy Spirit and recovery is not just for some, but for all. Let go of the past and embrace the beautiful new future — the return from exile. Recovery is promised for all of those who will be fervent followers of Jesus Christ and open themselves up to the healing power of the Holy Spirit. This is the hope which we may embrace today!
That hope of transformation leads us to a life of holiness. The promise of Christ for all is adoption into the family and the resultant life of holiness. This is not a holiness on our part, but a holiness which is found by our participation in God. The Holy Spirit begins the transforming work within us so that we can clearly reflect the Image in our lives. It is the holiness of Christ, God incarnate, which is visible in our lives.
The more clearly we reflect Christ, the more we participate in God’s plan to provide shelter in the desert. We become the cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, plane and pine trees. These are the trees which do not belong in the desert, and in the same way, we are transformed into much more than we could ever imagine. God is glorified because it is obvious to all that this has been done above and beyond our own strength. The world around us receives an outpouring of God’s love, strength, and shelter, because we are present. The call for God’s holy people is to step out into the wilderness unafraid, for God will provide all that we need. In the meantime we become instruments of God’s grace for those who are suffering and in need.
The voice of Isaiah reaches our ears today. Live into the beautiful recovery that God has in store, and feed upon the nutrients of the Holy Spirit, embracing holiness that will become the salvation of those dying in the desert.
Lord, thank you for the promise of recovery. Instead of hanging onto things from the past, may your waters flow like a healing balm and may your Spirit flourish in and through my life. Please, use me to be a tree of shelter for those who are in need. Amen.