A couple of weeks ago I was overwhelmed with sadness.
My recent post about motherhood only scratched the surface of some deeply buried feelings that need more attention from me. http://tranquiliving.com/motherhood-where-joy-and-pain-collide/ With four young children at the time, I was too busy holding it together to take time to grieve my losses.
Like most people, I am very weary of the covid-19 quarantine and the political divide. Being alone at home suited me to a point but I’m so ready to hug and open my door to people.
Then, as I churned out my deep thoughts on the laptop, I got some news that knocked the breath out of me. One of our church’s pastors had died suddenly the night before. He was a well-loved and gifted teacher who drew out biblical truth in an understandable way.
Through the week, I obsessed over his passing and the ripple affect that would surely come. I couldn’t imagine how devastating the loss was for his wife and four children. He’d preached on Sunday, only four days earlier. Through the night I hazily imagined that he’d reappeared and news of his death was a mistake. But, in the light of day, I realized his death was permanent.
It’s okay to be sad
I really hate to feel sad, and tried to shake it off. I prayed, sang worship songs and spent time outside; all the things that help me. Then, when I was silent enough to listen, I remembered something. This was a perfectly appropriate time to be sad. I wasn’t made for this world. I was created for a different one. The original fall of man forced us out of the garden and into a world that included not only joy but also much sorrow. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
I’ve never lived outside the U.S.; but I can imagine the adjustments I’d have to make in another country. Language and idioms, food, lifestyles … so many things to navigate, all while being 100% American. I’d adapt where needed, but I wouldn’t lose the core of who I am.
A similar experience is to live 100% in the Kingdom of God while living on Earth. The mores of the two cultures are quite distinct and opposite.
When I was born I became a citizen of planet Earth. While we live here, we see glimpses of God’s original plan. Creation makes us look forward to heaven. For example: approximately 391,000 species of plants point us to the Master Designer. Because God created man in his own image, we discover his image in people around us. When we watch someone in our community donate a kidney to a stranger, save a child from a burning house, give a large sum of money to a poor family, serve elderly folks or compose a spectacular score of music, we’re given a peek at the image of God. There are bits of Heaven on Earth: miracles, answered prayer, changed lives, and authentic love. But also tragedies, critically ill babies, disease and despair. Nothing lasts forever; everything and everyone dies.
Since my birth into Christ, I’m also a citizen of God’s Kingdom, where Jesus reigns over all who’ve surrendered to Him (Philippians 3:20). This kingdom is sometimes called the “upside-down kingdom”. Rather than a king robed in valuable garments with gold scepter and crown, Jesus is robed in humility. He surrendered his life to a gruesome death to satisfy the penalty for our sin so we could live in freedom. In his “opposite” kingdom, whoever wants to be first must be last, and whoever wants to be the greatest must be the servant of all. (Mark 9)
The alien life
How do we Christians live in this weird dichotomy of two worlds? In his first letter, Peter calls Christians God’s chosen people living as aliens among unbelievers. Anybody else ever feel like an alien? We’ve been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower and comfort us. We trust in God and his Word while the world tears down the truth we believe.
God empowers us to live in his Kingdom while living in the world. To make known the reality of the kingship of Christ, as we pour out love and generosity on others. Even while I’m fully human, (Oswald Chambers reminds me) I have the ability to manifest the life of Jesus in my mortal flesh. Regardless of the disagreeable things I experience, I can choose to glorify Jesus. We’re strangers and temporary residents in the world. Our conduct should be good and right so people will be drawn to Jesus.
We’ll be on Earth a relatively short time—let’s be careful that we don’t put down deep roots. We read also in First Peter that while we live out the days of our exile, we live in reverence and awe of our Heavenly Father. We are rooted eternally in the Kingdom of God, as we look forward to Heaven.
Thank you, Lord, for your generosity in sending us your Holy Spirit. Thank you that I can survive momentary despair and sadness because I’m at home in the comfort of your Kingdom.