My friends and I sometimes joke that, if I wanted to, I could easily become The Villain. Sometimes it is in reference to my ambition, other times it is a reaction to a story I’ve told. Then we laugh and move on to something else.
But there are also times when it has not been a joke. There are times where I have been the cause of someone else’s bad day. Sometimes it was accidental, but other times it was a conscious decision. It is when I have no one to laugh off the ridiculous idea of me inhabiting the identity of the villain, no one except the memories of when I’ve fallen short playing on repeat, that I wonder how God could love someone capable of producing so much chaos.
During this season of advent, we are all waiting to be reassured of God’s love for us in the form of a baby, but even as we wait for Him to send His son Jesus, He pours out His love through His promises. This is the promise that the prophet Isaiah gives to a people waiting, a people hurt by injustice and violence and many, many true villains, a people much like we are now:
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea. —Isaiah 11:6-9, ESV
It’s a beautiful image, but my first reaction to hearing it is to question how someone like me could ever fit into a design so perfect. There are days when I have felt like a wolf and there are days when I have felt like a cobra, and I can assure you it was not because I was dwelling with lambs or watching children play.
How do we fit our brokenness into God’s vision of peace?
God’s message to us here seems to suggest that we don’t have to. It is the knowledge of Him, Isaiah says, that will bring all of this to pass.
To know the Lord is to know that even though we are broken people capable of great damage, we don’t have to live in that identity. A wolf is still a wolf and a cobra is still a cobra, but that doesn’t have to mean the same thing today that it meant yesterday. Through the changing power that only Jesus can provide, who we are becomes less centered in the violence we have created or are capable of inflicting and more about the vision God has for us: a new life full of peace.
I thank God for sending His son Jesus, and in doing so, allowing us to know Him. He has bestowed on us a peace that goes against our sinful nature, but which has brought us into His new story: a story of incredible beauty and heroism to save us from our villainy.
LyLena D. Estabine is a sophomore in Lowell studying sociology.