Isaiah 11:6 (NIV)
The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
I use to capital-h HATE nature shows growing up. My little sisters and I would gather around the fuzzy picture on the TV (we only got three channels, and our PBS reception was utterly dependent on the cloud cover) to watch a program on orcas or lions or white-tailed deer.
For a few moments everything was great. The orcas swam playfully through the ocean. The lions napped in the shade of a scrubby tree. The white-tailed deer nibbled grass in a meadow.
It was never long before the tide turned in a bloody way.
“Why is he eating the SEAL?!” we would cry as an orca ripped a sea lion apart.
“What is HAPPENING?!” we would yell as a lion tore the head off of a gazelle.
“WHY ARE WE WATCHING THIS?!?!?!” we would yell at my parents as a white-tailed deer faun met an unfortunate end by becoming a black bear’s snack.
Nature red in tooth and claw, indeed.
I could never shake the feeling that those shows didn’t represent how things should be. According to Isaiah, I was right.
One day God’s peace will reign over the earth. Wars will cease, conflicts will fade, and even nature will return to perfect wholeness – lions with lambs, leopards with goats, predators mingling safely with small children.
It’s both a truth and a metaphor for the cosmic wholeness God has ushered in and will continue to usher in through Jesus in all walks of life.
We live in rattlesnake country now, and we see them occasionally on the trails. We’ve taught our four-year-old that if he sees one he is to raise his hand and stay perfectly still. This brought up some questions, of course.
“Because some snakes are not safe. They can bite.”
“But why? Why are snakes mean?” his little blue eyes welled up with tears.
“They don’t mean to be,” I said.
Often that’s how I feel in my own life. I work for good. I strive for holiness. And still I fall short.
I snap at the kids, at Daryl, at my friends. I am selfish where I should be selfless, angry where I should be patient, greedy where I should be generous. It echoes the apostle Paul’s sentiments:
I do not understand what I do! Who will save me from this body of sin?
The snakes? They don’t mean to be mean. And one day, they won’t be any longer.
And neither will we.
Praise be to the God who gave us a little child to lead us.