6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah offers us a pretty sweet sounding, if hard to imagine, vision of the future in the kingdom of God. He doesn’t really pull any punches, offering us a vision of peace that is so radical that carnivorous animals won’t even have a desire to eat other animals, such is their commitment to peace. This again, seems kind of hard to imagine, particularly in the world that we live in. We have ISIS. We have mass shootings. We have the Philadelphia Flyers (had to be done…) How is it possible that we could ever know peace this deep?

All of this reminds me of Jesus and the rich young ruler. Jesus insists that it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. Lots of people have tried to massage this particular message of Jesus to make it a little easier to hear, but we ought to remember the disciple’s first reaction to Jesus’ words. “Who then can be saved?” When something this impossible is put forth, what hope is there for the rest of us? Jesus reminds his frightened followers that with humanity it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

This of course means that the kind of peace that Isaiah foretells with the coming Messiah is impossible for me. I am never going to know peace like this on my own. As much as I would like to think of myself as a pretty decent person, I have moments where I am at least in my heart pretty violent toward others. I call other people names in my head. I think horrible things about those who drive to slowly on the highways between the seminary and me. I get cranky at my brand new twins when they don’t remember how a bottle works. And even if none of this ever comes to the surface, even if it is all in my own soul, it is violence all the same. What am I to do?

In my prayer life lately, my plan has been to ask God to change me, because I am so completely hopeless if I am left on my own. I need God to cause the wolf and lambs in my heart to lie down together, because I am simply not getting the job done. I need God to make me more conscious of my short comings. I need God to wrap me in his peace. I simply need God.

Where are the places for you where God could continue to transform you from the inside out? Where are the places where even if you were to fail, God would be able to pick you up and carry you on? Today, take a few moments of prayer for those areas. Who knows, we may even find a whole new level of peace that we never thought would be possible.

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