My Kingdom or His?
Maybe you don’t struggle with this, but I do. Not intentionally, but I struggle with choosing my own kingdom over God’s. I don’t always cling to the part in the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done…”, but I’m learning. By His beautiful grace, I’m learning.
We all have our own version of a kingdom: our jobs, homes, families, spending habits, technology that consumes our lives, our hearts and how we treat people. Oh, how the list goes on. Because we have our own kingdoms, sometimes those collide into other peoples’…not because we do or don’t want them to, but because it’s life and it’s just part of the journey. When that collision happens though, we have a choice. My kingdom or His? My will or His?
In a great book I’ve been reading lately called It’s Not What You Think, by Jefferson Bethke, he defines kingdom this way:
“For there to be a kingdom, there must be a king, kingdom citizens, and a governing structure or way of life. A lot of us have the first two, not realizing the last one comes with it. We take Jesus as our savior, we become citizens of his kingdom, but we fail to realize that for that to be true, our lives now have to come under his reign.”
Too many times, I’m still king of my own kingdom.
I run things how I want to. It’s out of habit–but I’m not proud of that.
You know that old song by Joni Mitchell called “Big Yellow Taxi,” with the lyrics that say: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone…They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”? About this time last year, I was in the process of making one of the biggest mistakes of my life, and at the time, I didn’t even realize it.
My life had been colliding with someone else’s but I was choosing my own kingdom instead of learning and embracing the joys of theirs, even when I thought I had. Only after I had “put up a parking lot” did I realize the subtle ways Satan creeps in and convinces you that your kingdom walls are strong and safe the way they are. You don’t need the trouble or hassle of cutting out a door or a window from your heart–I mean, wall–of stone to experience the incredible joy that comes from a beautiful view of something beyond yourself. After the other kingdom left, as Bethke says,
“It didn’t take long to realize just how selfish I was, just how hurtful I could be with comments, and just how unfocused I could be as a leader and servant.”
And his next comment, I confess, I know to be true:
“It’s only when we clash with another kingdom, or a new way of life, that we realize how poor the one [my kingdom] before truly was.”
And I have to live with that, probably for the rest of my life. Oh, to be able to rewind the clock.
How Different Kingdoms Can be Beautiful
The wedding I was a part of in Vienna a few months ago was a precious reminder of how beautiful different kingdoms coming together can truly be. The bride from Africa, the groom from Austria–and even his parents are American and Austrian. As I read over the guest list, my heart rejoiced with how beautiful the differences coming together in one room would be. There were people from Austria, Hungry, Africa, New Zealand, Romania, America, Asia, Germany, France, Switzerland…the list was long. Different kingdoms collided. But through the love of Christ and the Holy Spirit welcomed into that place, it wasn’t about our individual kingdoms. It was about the Kingdom of God.
Colliding into the Kingdom of God is beautiful. The door and window He cuts out provide a breathtaking view of who He is and who he created us to be–together, one, and whole. Chiseling out room in your heart for other kingdoms to collide with your own is a God-honoring expression of love. It honors the Creator, it honors His Kingdom…it allows room for His will to be done.
God, by your grace, thank you for tearing down my kingdoms.
Thank you for teaching me that the windows you carve into my heart are so I can see you more clearly–so I can see others more clearly! Let your kingdom come, let your will be done!!