“In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on His shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honour for the house of his father. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots – all of it’s lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars.” ” In that day”, declares the Lord Almighty, “the peg driven into the firm place will give way; it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down.” The Lord has spoken! Isaiah 22: 20-25 (NIV)
This has been a most incredible week. On wednesday I had the privilege of visiting a great man of God in hospital as he moves towards his final days; on Saturday morning I witnessed the birth of our daughter Alice. The beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega. Both are moments in time that wholly belong to God. Alice entered the word like Superman..first her head appeared and then an arm shot out and she literally climbed out into the world; noisy, vibrant, excited; wholly dependent.
This passage in Isaiah may seem at first a strange one to be reflecting on at a time like this..however there are deep wells to be found within it. In the hours before Alice’s birth, when things hadn’t gone to ‘plan’ and Nicole was resting after her epidural, I took a short walk with the Lord. His presence and sense of trustworthiness was so incredible that I hardly dared pray in case I ruined the moment. As Alice came into the world, amid the emotion was again, that sense of complete trust..this was His child born to us. In Isaiah’s day, when a person held any position of authority or honour, immediately the whole family looked to them for support and became dependent on them..the glory of the family hung on them..and yet that is not how we are meant to be. In the upside down world of the Kingdom of God, my prayer is that as we parent Alice, we are able to nurture that dependance that existed at birth, not replace it. Of course, in the early years her dependence is completely in us..however our task is in leading it to remain not in us where it risks giving way, falling; but in Him whom we place our trust and our dependence.
And then there is that snapshot of time where we exist on earth, suspended between our spiritual pre-existance and our eternal life, the book-ends of creation. That snapshot of time where we get to choose the now, or the forever! As I sat with a man who had made that choice and knew the eternity of his future and was yearning for it I sensed a new urgency rise in me. The keys to the Kingdom of God have been placed in my hands; doors that I open no one can shut, and yet also doors that I shut no one can open. I wear that sash of honour that I do not deserve and could not earn, yet boast in it none the less. I have a choice as to how I look upon life. I can choose to be like Eliakim’s predecessor who spent many days driving out in a chariot to supervise the building of his own tomb, eyes focused in his own legacy, only to see it crumble; or I can be like Eliakim who used those keys to open the doors for the poor, the broken, the lost. It made me question what type of legacy I am really interested in.
And now I sit with a sense of awe and excitement and begin to look at the keys that I have been given for today and the ones on the ring that maybe are for tomorrow. I dream about which keys Alice will be given what doors she will unlock and for whom. I begin to realise, maybe truly for the first time, that the only keys of any worth that I possess are keys that fit eternal doors..not temporal ones.
The now and forever seem suddenly so much closer together..the excitement of the now fitting so much more snugly into the beauty of eternity.