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.
This past week I was sitting in the hot tub at my local rec center, enjoying the healing effects of the jets, when an elderly couple joined me. The husband, who sat on my right, had a beard and wire rimmed glasses. The wife, on my left, had the most beautiful silver hair, cut short, and a bright pinky-red shade of lipstick.
“It looks like this is the highlight of your day,” said the husband, observing my obvious contentment.
“Yep,” I smiled.
“So what do you do?” he asked, clearly in the mood to chat, missing all my cues that my hot tub soak is intended to be a solitary experience. I wasn’t sure how to answer him without inviting more conversation.
“I left a career. I’m taking time to enjoy myself,” I said, still unsure of my answer to that question.
“Ohhhhhhhhhh, that sounds like a smart idea.”
I was taken aback by his enthusiasm for my unemployment. His response was a strong departure from the usual confused faces and uncomfortable conversation I elicit.
“So, if you could do anything, what would you do?”
Man, this guy wasn’t giving up. Again, I struggled for the answer.
“I’d be a reformer,” I said, wondering why in the hell those words escaped my mouth.
“What would you reform?”
“The church.” Why was I saying these things to a perfect stranger, with only a few minutes left on the hot tub timer?
“Ohhhhhhhh” he said, laughing with delight. “Well, the church is definitely in need of reform. It’s made up of people.”
A few moments of silence passed between us.
“If you ask me you’re already doing it.”
“What?” I asked.
“Reforming. A life well lived is the best way to do that.”
“Yes, it’s true,” I said, stunned.
And with that tidbit of gospel the jets shut off and I bid this nice, elderly couple a good day.
In the past when I’ve read these verses from the prophet Isaiah, speaking of a new heaven and a new earth, I imagined a very literal reformation. Global change. World peace. You know, all the big stuff. Easter has to mean something earth-shattering. Or does it? The prophet makes this huge pronouncement and then goes on to talk about ordinary life: making a home, working the land, and having children. Isaiah is talking about a life well lived. No more, no less.
I’d say the elderly man in the hot tub was a prophet not unlike Isaiah. Because he saw what Isaiah saw too: living the life we want to live versus the life we think we should live, is the real stuff of Easter. When we do this, have the courage to take up the passions or work or lifestyle that truly feed us, we are setting in motion our own kind of reform. And it will, in its own way, make a world of difference.
So, is yours a life well lived?
If not, how might you go about reforming your life one small step at a time?