"Remember that emotion is not a debatable phenomenon. It is an
authentic reflection of our subjective experience, one that is best
served by attending to it."
Dr. Curt Thompson
Anatomy of the Soul
Sunday, September 16, 2018
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
My husband and I were recently blessed with our fourth grandchild. It was a dramatic event: by the grace of God, a Caesarean section was conducted just in time to avoid a situation that would have threatened the lives of both mother and baby. We are beyond grateful for the Lord’s sovereign mercy and grace that were so evident on the evening of July 12.
The stress regarding this grandchild, though, started a few weeks before her birth. The baby’s parents had decided to try a home birth with a midwife, and they had asked us to take child care responsibilities for their 18-monthy-old son as well as cover any support duty needed. We were thrilled at the prospect of participating in such a special event even though it meant running to Massachusetts at a moment’s notice.
The original due date was June 22, and so by early June I was as packed and ready as I could be: clothes for us, food for the new parents, new toys for the big brother. I had my cell phone with me and on at all times, and the stop, drop, and roll drill (stop what we’re doing; drop everything, roll up to Massachusetts!) was never far from my mind. June 22 came and went. Our other son and his family came to visit, expecting to meet the latest addition to the family; they left a week later—on July 11—disappointed. As the days and weeks passed, the pressure became increasingly intense, and I could not help but compare waiting for the coming of this baby to the coming of Christ.
The Bible is quite clear: Christ will return. Matthew records Christ’s admonition in Chapter 25: we are the bride waiting for the groom: we are to be ready and waiting, with lamps lit at all times, even if the bridegroom delays. It is essential to remain alert and prepared to avoid missing the Event.
And I now understand better than before that it is hard to wait and remain prepared. Waiting and watching take focus and energy, and it is easy to become distracted or grow weary. But I also understand better than before that the waiting and watching comprise a small price to pay in order to be able to attend the party. In our busy lives—even lives filled with prayer and God-focus—it is easy to lose sight of the Bridegroom and the initiation of His kingdom.
The truth is that maintaining a fixed gaze on the horizon of the Lord’s coming is essential not only so that we can join the party in heaven but also to inform our day-to-days lives of faith. Maternal care during pregnancy and preparations for birth are conducted to achieve the end goal of a safe delivery of a healthy baby. I packed for Massachusetts and listened for my cell phone because I knew the end was in sight. And even though we do not know when our Lord will return, our efforts to serve the Lord must look toward the end goal: the culmination of the new covenant initiated by Christ and the establishment of His eternal kingdom.
To be sure, our waiting for The Call was different from waiting for Christ’s return. My Massachusetts preparations had to take into account my responsibilities at home and a return to “normal” life. When Christ comes, our earthly responsibilities and what we see as normal life will be irrelevant. Still, I cannot ignore this lesson: our lives on this side of the kingdom must include prayerful, watchful waiting. Come, Lord Jesus!
Thursday, July 26, 2018
Friday, July 13, 2018
Wednesday, July 4, 2018
Although it is wonderful when churches in the United States embrace a diverse population, most of those who attend churches in the United States are American. And for the most part, Americans exhibit a political DNA that is characterized by a disregard of and even a disdain for monarchies. The concept of royalty offends our sense of democracy. And yet as demonstrated by the U.S. news coverage of the marriage of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, we remain fascinated by royalty in general and by the doings of royals in particular. The most recent royal wedding generated a re-publication of a piece about royal rules. Did you know that Royals are not allowed to vote or speak publicly about matter of policy? Royals are not allowed to eat shellfish. Neither may they take selfies or use social media. Public dress is always formal and modest, and they are expected to behave with the utmost decorum at all times.
What Christians in the United States often fail to remember is that we cannot avoid the royalty thing. We are sons and daughter of God Almighty, brothers and sisters of His Son, Jesus Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God. Unlike Great Britain’s monarchy, we will enjoy are regal position for all eternity.
Eternity is a long time; our time on this earth is not. But while our time on earth is limited, it is extremely significant. We are being sanctified, being made fit and ready for heaven. And as children of the King, we are called to make disciples of all men, to practice the kingdom of God as we live among non-believers. It is not a duty; it is a privilege to share our life-giving and life-defining faith.
So, this is where we intersect with the British royals. It matters what we do: how we behave, the choices we make, the way we interact with others. People are watching. We are ambassadors for Christ in a way that is not so unlike the way British royals are ambassadors for Great Britain. The rules imposed on the royals are important, not as an end in themselves, but in order to equip them to do their work well. If being a royal was merely a matter of diet, social norms, and polite conversation, members of the royal family would become stick figures with no ability to impact others and the world. Likewise, our Lord has issued commandments, not so that we would earn our salvation and not to define our faith, but in order to teach us and help us to share His nature, to equip us to proclaim Christ in the way we live our lives and love others. If we were to make our Christian faith about rules, we, too, would become two-dimensional and unable to live out our faith in love. Rules alone will not do it. But if we try another popular tactic and merely try to avoid offending others, the salt of the Gospel would become diluted and ineffective. Nice will not do it, either. We are called to be salt and light to a very fallen world by proclaiming the grace and truth of Christ and touching others with a living, loving faith.
Where does this leave us? As children of the Almighty and Everlasting King, we are royalty. Like our earthly cousins the British royals, we are always on display. It matters what we do and what we say. Our King has commanded us to proclaim His kingdom: His truth and grace, by and with the power of His love. He has given us His Word and His Holy Spirit to equip, enable, and empower us to do just that. But we not bound to the rigid existence of our world’s kings and queens, princes and princesses. This is not a matter of license or of carelessness. It is about looking behind and beyond the rules to become men and women after God’s own heart so that we may go about the business of proclaiming Christ in freedom and great joy.