The people of Israel have longed for a return – to return to their homes, their families, their worship, and the lives they lost in exile. But God has a different plan – to create something new.
Often, I have longed for a return – to life before depression, before diabetes, before MS, before addiction. But there is no going back. There is only moving forward.
But if I could go back, I would miss so much! I would miss all the things I’ve learned in the processes of failures and tragedies. I would not be the same person that I am today, and I’m learning to really love this messy, flawed, chaotic, perfect life. Sure, change is hard. But not to change would be devastating. God is creating something new. With every obstacle life throws in my path, God makes something beautiful that could not have been created if not for the struggles. So I will glance back to remember who I was and how far I’ve come, and I will set my sights forward, looking with eagerness to the new thing God is continually creating.
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord— and their descendants as well. Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.