Promise and Placeby Jamie Donne
For many of us, it’s a daily prayer and a life cry to see the earth look more like heaven. We contend, labor, and give to this end. Last month I connected the prophetic invitation from Will Hart to God’s delight in Washington. I believe that God is calling us to a heavenly perspective over our city. I love that God is deeply connected to his creation. He uses agricultural pictures in his stories, gives sabbath to land, wants special oils in his incense, the list goes on and on. His heart for cities includes that every person would saved and delivered.
Yet, if we would lift our eyes, he actually has even more than that beautiful dream. In Zechariah, God declares his jealousy for Jerusalem and the coming day of restoration. He offers a vivid picture of a neighborhood living in wholeness:
Location and Blessing
Part of the restorative work in a city is a picture of the elders sitting, talking, laughing as kids play in the streets. This isn’t a metaphor. God actually cares about the literal streets of a city. He says when it’s marvelous in your sight, it’s marvelous in my sight. It’s the beautiful cycle of co-laboring in a city. The sowing of peace shifts the atmosphere of a city and includes generations enjoying a city that looks like heaven. God says city restoration looks like the partnership of natural and supernatural in the land. “The ground shall give its produce, and the heavens shall give their dew.” Heavenly dew kisses the natural process of sowing and reaping and brings forth restorative fruit.
When we look at the promises of God throughout Scripture, they are played out in the significant backdrop of places. In fact, Isaac tasted of this natural promise when he was obedient to The Lord in the midst of a famine. God told him to sojourn in a land and when he followed The Lord, he reaped a hundredfold crop. This is the place where Isaac encountered God as the one who has made room for him. The revelation of generosity, grace, and favor was revealed to Isaac in the tangible fruit of reaping in the midst of famine. God breaks in powerfully because of his location.
When Jacob encountered The Lord through the powerful vision of the ladder to heaven, God made a promise that included land. When he awoke, he made a powerful declaration that I believe is a key to unlocking our heart and the destiny of our city.
“Surely The Lord is in this place, and I did not know it […] How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Gen 28:16-17)
The encounter with God changed the way Jacob viewed his surroundings and it resulted in a new name for the place. The city was once called Luz and is now Bethel, House of God. Will our encounter shift a city into a gate of heaven?
We long for more than a visitation from the Lord and to see a habitation in our city. God is giving us his eyes so that we can say, “Surely the Lord is in this place! This is none other than the house of God, the gate of Heaven!” Our promises are not detached from our location. Your promises of a blossoming business, restored family, and house with extra rooms manifest within geography. In fact, God determined our time and place within history so that we would seek him and discover his nearness. The revelation of God’s character came to Isaac in his obedience in Beersheba.
God Dreams to Prosper Washington
I’m challenged to renew my mind to dream even bigger with God so that my dreams include ecological restoration, multigenerational joy and whimsy in the streets, and the sowing of peace. When the glorious day comes when we step into the new heavens and the new earth, I want to live my life in such a way that the fruit that comes from Washington is glorious fruit. I long for the story of my life to cry out, “Jesus you’re worthy to receive the reward of Your suffering. Come and receive the reward of your suffering in Washington!”
I challenge us all to tie our resources and labor to this end. Give to the youth local missions trip or your favorite project in our city. Adopt a street or neighborhood in prayer and give God no rest until there is multigenerational play in the streets. Make declarations over Washington that it is the gate of heaven and the place in which God has made room for us. Surely The Lord is in this place!
God does have plans to prosper us. It’s very likely that we are missing out on what he’s doing right now because it doesn’t look like we had imagined. He has plans to give us a future we can hope for, but every future begins in our present lives. We are invited to align our hearts with God to declare a city of hope, remembered and delighted in. God always pours out his love in tangible ways and as his image bearers in the world we express his likeness. The holy spirit is stirring among us, beckoning us into a season of being firmly rooted and passionate about where we’re called. How will we say yes to him?