PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.
Jesus, we belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”
The final verses end the chapter with a bang. Everything that has come before this has been building a crescendo to this moment. The thirsty who responded to the invitation are given a promise, a new way of being in the world, one marked by joy and peace.
As I read these words, I feel a great sense of longing within me. I feel a disconnect between the present reality of the world, and what is talked about here.
Perhaps I’m confronted with this so strongly because these attributes are quite literally the antithesis of depression and anxiety—two crises that have reached epidemic levels in our current moment and have become defining characteristics of my generation.
This begs the question: Is this promise for now? Or is it for later? I believe the answer is both.
The kingdom of God has arrived but is not yet fully here. The disconnect is part of the tension of living in the “already-and-not-yet” of the kingdom. The author of 1 Corinthians described that tension like this: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (13:12).
Now joy and peace are fruit born by the Spirit in the lives of believers. Now creation declares the wonders of God—marked by beauty but it’s also quite brutal. Later joy and peace are defining characteristics of all creation. Later the wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox (Isaiah 65:25).
What does it look like to live “between the times”—to exist in the present reality of the kingdom while longing for a future where the kingdom and the King are here in their fullness? To what extent can we know joy and peace now?
A. W. Tozer brilliantly wrote: “True religion confronts earth with heaven and brings eternity to bear upon time.”1
Sometimes when we talk about joy and peace, we tend to view them as fleeting moments of escape from the present. But that couldn’t be further from reality. The joy and peace available to us are not just pacifiers to “get us through today” until Jesus returns. They are eternal realities brought into the temporal realm. They are the real, genuine fruit of an abiding life in step with the Spirit of God. A life that agrees “the kingdom is here” and prophetically declares “the King is coming again.” Or as Jesus taught us to pray “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Grasping this is crucial because of the sheer amount of people for whom it is relevant. According to a 2023 US Census, 49.9 percent of 18–24 year olds report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder. Though that percentage decreases as you get older, 20 percent of adults 65+ report symptoms.2 This means that on average, the question “Can I really know joy and peace?” is pertinent for just over 1 in 3 Americans.
While these statistics may be discouraging, they also present a great opportunity. The church today holds two potent instruments of witness—joy and peace.
Thankfully we don’t have to muster up joy or chart the path to peace on our own. The very language of being “led forth” implies that someone is doing the leading. It should not be lost on us that joy and peace are listed as fruit of the Spirit. Our role is not one of manufacturing, but one of following, a journey of abiding. The Prince of Peace, Jesus, is leading the charge here, carrying us from now to later.
Our journey through Isaiah 55 began with a simple invitation from God to his people “Come.” In the last verses in the Bible, the same word is spoken. But this time, the “to” and “from” labels are reversed.
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen (Rev. 22:17, 20–21).
This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.
Jesus, you are peace. You are joy. Help me to see you more clearly for who you are. Holy Spirit, bring the joy and peace of Jesus to me and through me. I receive your kingdom now, and long for it to come in its fullness later. Amen.
Inviting the Holy Spirit to guide me, I ask myself these questions:
- Would I describe my church as a joyful and peaceful presence?
- Are there any areas in my life where peace or joy seem to be lacking, or I feel like I have to grasp for them? Spend some time asking the Prince of Peace to speak into those areas, listening to what he might have to say.
- Is there a specific person I know whose life is devoid of God’s peace and joy because they don’t know Christ? Spend some time in prayer, asking that they would come to know the person of Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit if there is any way he wants you to participate in that process.
For the Awakening,
Anna Grace Legband
- A.W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy.