Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.
In all honesty, reading the book of Revelations stresses me out. All the talk about loathsome sores, water turning into blood, gnawing of tongues, scorching sun, darkness, demons, and earthquakes strikes up feelings of stress, uncertainty, doubt, and fear. In our current times, these same feelings can be elicited by words like COVID, political parties, vaccines, race, sexual orientation, and the media. Today, these are the subjects that divide us. For example, our country is divided on vaccinations. The polarizing stances are everyone should be vaccinated or everyone should have the choice to vaccinate. As I talk with people who reside on either side of the divide, the only thing both sides have in common is the feelings of stress, uncertainty, doubt, and fear. Commonalities are supposed to bring us together, right? The problem is stress, uncertainty, doubt, and fear may unite us but they do not heal us. Have you noticed when you come together with the commonality of fear or doubt; restoration doesn’t occur? Peace doesn’t occur. Renewal doesn’t occur. God doesn’t call us together in a spirit of fear. God calls us together in love, grace, forgiveness, and by the renewing of our minds. Even in the midst of the scary details in Revelations, the Apostle John describes a place of renewal. A place with rivers clear as crystal, trees bearing crops, leaves healing nations, and light with no more darkness.
Just like in Revelations, God has no intention to leave us in these current dark times. He has a plan of renewal and restoration. He has a plan to redirect our worry, retrain our thoughts, realign our hearts, renovate our fear, and restore our certainty. God has a way out. God is the way out. So, as we start off this new year, let’s first turn to God and pray.
Prayer: God, you see all of the unrest in our world. It doesn’t surprise you. It doesn’t frighten you. It doesn’t make you turn away from us. In fact, in the midst of all this unrest, you are continuously sending us opportunities to experience your peace, love, renewal, restoration, and healing. Help us first find these opportunities of renewal and then focus on them, celebrate them, tell others about them, and lean into them. We ask that you make 2022 a year of healing and restoration, not by changing our world, but by changing our hearts. You are always here, you are always fair, you are always refining us, you are always working in our best interest. Thank you for that.
We lift this up in the name of your precious son, Jesus Christ. Amen.