Monday, January 19, 2009

The Tale of Two Kingdoms: Reflections on a day at Magic Kingdom

A few weeks ago we spent a day taking in the sights and sounds of Disney’s Magic Kingdom. It’s a place where “dreams come true” so they say. Everyone looks so happy (at least in the commercials) and there is always something blooming, something to smile about. For a mere $75 you can pass through the gate of this kingdom becoming a royal guest.

Oh, how many little girls we saw that day– hair up, glitter all around, and dressed as if they were going to the ball. How they delighted to stroll among the peasants wearing their gowns and looking forward to everything the day would bring – including exploring every nook and cranny of that glorious castle where – if only for a day - this was home. For a castle is where a princess lives! I can only imagine the anticipation in their hearts as they spied the castle from afar. It’s quite a sight to behold with its towers and turrets.

Being a princess is a special thing you know. It means your daddy is the king! Oh, what a privilege to live as a daughter of the king.

I can only imagine what a little girl could have been dreaming of that day. Perhaps she had thoughts like this: “I’m sure the king will be expecting me – even waiting for me. I can’t wait to run into his arms and he’ll twirl me around with my feet off the ground. And then I’ll run off and explore this wonderful castle – this palace I’ve only seen in my dreams”.

But there was no king; there was no twirling. And there was nothing to explore. The castle, you see, is nothing but an empty shell. (I’m serious…you can look at the outside, but you cannot go in). It is a facade – meant to impress. And impressive it was! You should have seen it all decked out for Christmas – dripping with lights from head to toe, a glistening ice castle all lit up! It was magnificent!

But there was nothing on the inside.

The empty castle caused me to ponder some things. Like how often our lives are like empty castles. They look really great from the outside, but inside there is a terrible void – an emptiness. What a tragedy so many of us spend our days…years… lives, making sure our empty castles are dressed to impress lest others discover our life is nothing but an empty shell.

It’s a sad way to spend a lifetime – living in an empty castle.

How I rejoice that it doesn’t have to be that way! The truth is we were born to be princesses (and princes) – daughters (and sons) of the King! And the desire to be one was put there on purpose by the God who longs to be our King and fill the void in our empty castles.

When Jesus is seated on the throne of our lives, He fills our castle with meaning, purpose, substance, depth, richness, beauty, love, and joy. That’s what I want.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thy will be done...

It has been nearly three months now since we set sail from MN. Though we are still enjoying the journey, we are feeling like the honeymoon is nearly over – meaning the novelty of traveling is fading away. And now the hard work of persevering in what God has called us to do – and learning the lessons He brought us out here to teach us – is what is at hand.

We are in a season of leaving things behind - moving away from what was. It is a process of letting go of what we’ve known – good and bad. The words Jesus spoke about a grain of wheat having to fall into the earth in order to bear fruit resonate with me.

"Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal. – John 12:24-25 (MSG)

It reminds me of baptism...allowing myself to be submerged under water where I can no longer live - and then being raised up again to new life. It also reminds me of the Israelites who were delivered from slavery by passing through the waters of the Red Sea. Passing from death to life requires us to trust God.

This is my hearts desire - to cooperate with what God is doing in me in this season. I want to allow my selfishness to die. I want to be refined and transformed - to have the mind of Christ. I want to bear the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me. I cannot do this on my own.

I want my life to accurately reflect who God is - to glorify Him.

Letting go is one part of the journey - the other is being raised up to new life and moving toward what is to come. What that will look like, I do not know. But I’m willing and excited to find out.

Thank you for praying as you think of us. Pray that each of us will embrace this season of repentance as God refines and purifies us and that we will take hold of and prepare for what lies ahead. We pray the same for you. While your journey may not look exactly like ours, it is a journey nonetheless.

God’s desire is for each of us is to become who He created us to be and to do what He’s called us to do so that we can participate with Him in bringing the kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. That is a huge calling – one that takes each member of the body of Christ doing their part and working together.

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done...on earth as it is in heaven!

PS Isn't it cool that while God refines us, He does not destroy us. His love for us is so extraordinary that He gently leads us to repentance which results in transformation. He does not condemn us - He rejoices over us! Thank you, Lord, for your kind and gentle ways and for your patience.