Text: Isaiah 35:1-10, Isaiah 36:1-22, Hebrews 12:14, Revelation 21:4
I lead a women’s Bible study at The Next Door, a faith-based residential addiction recovery program. When visiting, I always bring dark chocolate (which, admittedly, is self-serving), and some small amenity they don’t have easy access to, like good shampoo or soft socks. Just a little treat to remind them someone’s pulling for them while they’re fighting the toughest battle of their lives.
So when I went to Ireland a few years ago, I picked up a some small souvenirs for my Next Door friends: some fancy European chocolate, miniature Celtic crosses, and cheesy leprechaun keychains. I also kept a few euros, assuming they might enjoy seeing the difference between European money and American money.
But when I got back home I thought twice about bringing them the euros. I wondered if giving them foreign coins might come across as condescending since that’s usually the type of trinket you give a child. Or if it would rub salt in their wounds, since most of them are on parole because of past felonies and are very limited when it comes to traveling within the US, much less internationally. In the end, I decided to leave the coins in my bag and thought, “I’ll just play it by ear when I get there.”
Of course my gracious friends were overtly appreciative of everything—they ate the chocolate, clasped the crosses to their chests, and carefully divided the euros among themselves, proclaiming the coins to be “really cool.” Then we put the treats aside so we could dive into a story about Jesus together. I didn’t give the Irish booty another thought until I got home later that night and received this exact text from one of “my girls” named Sheri:
one of the things i feel the worst about was when i stole my dads rare coin collection so i could get high. But with no gift for father’s day yet i now have the best gift i could give him, a new rare and cool coin! That’s how Jesus works! thanks lisa
During my next visit, Sherri explained how deeply ashamed she’d been of stealing from her father because unlike almost everyone else in her life, he’d never given up on her. She’d worried about what—if anything—she could get him for Father’s Day because she didn’t have much money. Then she beamed at me and said, “But then you showed up and gave me that rare and precious coin which is the perfect Father’s Day gift. I can’t wait to give it to him on Sunday!”
Left speechless and close to collapsing into a blubbering heap, I handed her a small velvet bag containing every single foreign coin I’d dug out of my dresser after receiving her text, and said, “Why don’t you give him these, too?”
I’m continually amazed by how redemptive our Redeemer is, lavishly covering our mistakes with the cape of His mercy, faithfully promising us a glorious future that will not be limited or defined or tarnished by the past. This is the resounding theme in today’s reading:
“‘Be strong; do not fear! Here is your God… he will save you.’ Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy, for water will gush in the wilderness, and streams in the desert…”
- Isaiah 35:4-6
Just as God proved Himself faithful to rescue and restore our ancestors, the theocracy of Israel and King Hezekiah, so will He always prove Himself faithful to us. He will bring us to our forever home.
However dry and parched your emotional landscape may feel this season, don’t despair. Because when the rain of God’s reign inevitably falls, your life will bloom.
Lisa Harper is a master storyteller with a masters of Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary. She’s lauded as an engaging, hilarious communicator as well as an authentic and substantive Bible teacher. She’s been in vocational ministry for 30 years and has written 15 books and Bible study curriculums but says her greatest accomplishment by far is that of becoming Missy’s (her adopted daughter from Haiti) mama! They live on a hilly farmette south of Nashville, Tennessee, where they enjoy eating copious amounts of chips, queso, and guacamole.