Judy Turner challenges us to make our home in the Kingdom of God.
By Judy Turner
When you think about being “at home,” is there a special place that comes to mind? I think of my Grandmother’s house. It was the place in my childhood where I felt truly “at home.” I still go there frequently in my memory. I can still smell the chicken baking for Sunday dinner. In my mind’s eye, I see the family gathered around Grandma’s big dining room table. I hear the clink of silverware on the “good china” and the sound of everyone laughing. I see Grandpa telling the same stories over and over. And we laugh, mostly because his delight in telling the stories spills over on us. And, after eating, we sit at the table for a long time. We are full and satisfied, as the afternoon sun filters through the lace curtains in the dining room windows.
As a child, I wasn’t able to put words to what I experienced at Grandma’s house. I didn’t have theological words like “grace” or “the kingdom of God.” But now, when I try with my limited human mind to grasp those spiritual realities, I turn to the memories of Grandma’s house to help. Even though the actual house my grandma lived in is long gone, in my spirit I can still go there. I realize it wasn’t the material wood and shingles and furnishings of the house that created that realm of belonging, safety, comfort, joy. It was Grandma’s love. It was an “I love you no matter what” kind of love. You didn’t feel like you had to earn it. You couldn’t lose it. It was just there for you. Oh, she had her guidelines for what was acceptable and what was not in her house. She made those clear. And everyone had a job to do. But even chores weren’t so burdensome at Grandma’s house. Wherever she was, there was joy.
Jesus came proclaiming the “Good News” of the Kingdom of God. “The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). He invited people to repent, to turn toward, this Reality and enter into it by faith. He continually invites us to live in that Realm where God is in charge, where we encounter God’s love, grace, and power everywhere. It is a realm you can never earn your way into, but when you turn toward it, it is there.
Sometimes I’m there in that Realm. Sometimes, when caught up in worship or prayer, or even as I go about my daily tasks in the awareness of God’s Presence, I’m there. I know this Realm is what is ultimately true and real. But much of the time I live in another realm. It’s a realm where human fears and desires seem to be in charge. Anxiety, stress, and distress are everywhere. It’s a realm where I get very tired trying to prove myself, to improve myself and those around me, to secure my future, and to make sure all will go according to my desired outcomes.
Long ago I received the gift of God’s salvation. I turned away from a self-centered life to receive the Christ-centered life, which is abundant and eternal. But the old, self-centered life doesn’t just go away when we come to Christ. The Christian life is an ongoing process of transformation into Christ-likeness.
It seems that, when the Holy Spirit wants to bring change in my life, some dimension of Jesus’ life sparkles and blazes into my awareness. I’m left in wide-eyed wonder. Recently I realized that Christ continually lived in that Realm of God’s grace, love, and power. The realization took my breath away. I realized how much needs to change in my life so I can experience true Kingdom living. I know that only God can transform my life so I experience more of God’s Realm more of the time. But I also know that God cannot transform our lives without our active cooperation. We make choices. I hear Christ’s “Good News” that I can more fully and continually experience Kingdom living. What an invitation! But it’s a day-by-day process. It begins with the choices I make today.
What if I choose to live today as if a loving, powerful God is really in charge?
I will ask the Holy Spirit to help me notice when my own fears and desires are in control and to help me turn instead toward the Kingdom.
When I feel overwhelmed with the pain and suffering of the world, I will ask for God’s perspective and for trust in the promise that one day God’s Kingdom will be all-in-all.
I will simply ask for opportunities to make that love of God real for the people I encounter today.
When I fear that there is not enough time or money, I will ask God to take me into the realm of His abundance and assure me that there will always be the resources to accomplish His purpose.
When I feel hurt because someone does not understand or appreciate me, I will turn toward the only One who truly understand and can fulfill our deepest needs
I am excited as I enter this day, turning toward the fullness of Kingdom living. It’s like the excitement I felt as a child when we were going to Grandma’s house. The car turned right on Main Street, left on Walnut. Then one more turn and we would be there. I strained to see the familiar trees, the house, the porch swing, and Grandma waiting at the door. Yes, one more turn and I would be “home”!
Yes, we are getting there. Each day that we live by continually turning toward the Kingdom, we are closer to Home.