Been thinking a lot lately about the kingdom of God, which we’ve begun calling “the upside down kingdom” (a phrase, of course, we stole from someone else). You see, for much of my faith journey I have thought that being a christian meant that I’d have it all together. Things would go my way. All the time. I read verses in the bible about the plans God has for me being those to prosper me and make me successful and I though it was that simple. Christian = successful life.
The only way to un-learn that is to have things not go your way and then be stuck wondering who God is and what the heck is He doing to you. So, here we are. Stuck, you might say. But in a very tender way God is showing me that the way to Him really is the way of weakness and that less-than-satisfactory circumstances are actually a jewel in His kingdom.
This is what struck me today:
Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have established strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger. Psalm 8:2
I have about a dozen friends scattered all over the country who are officially through with sleepover-prank-calls and all-night cramming for exams, yet now still so familiar with the display on their digital clock as “3am” thanks to their unweaned infants. It’s hard to believe that God says those same “babes” (requiring the attention of their parents for even a simple late-night snack) can be used to display His strength.
Even harder for me to believe, today (as these very words above were sung by the singers at the International House of Prayer), is that my girls–who are likely weaker than the average American infant–are prime candidates to manifest the strength of God and silence the enemy of oppression/poverty/darkness (call it whatever you want) in their lives and the lives of others.
See, that’s the upside down kingdom. In this world we think theologians, intellects, academics, business or ministry leaders and strategists or even just really together, fun, got-life-wrapped-around-their-pinky kind of people are those with strength. (Mind you, this is a thought many christians would assent to.) Yet, God seems to choose the weakest links to display His beauty and love.
So the natural deduction is that my girls, in their weakest state, can establish the strength of God in ways that even the person you most admire may not be able to access. Yep, that’s what had me in tears for quite a while today … but the bigger thing is this:
Jesus didn’t come for a bride (the church, his people, you and me) who had it all figured out. He came for the weak, the lowly, the messed-up. When caught in our rare moments of honesty, we’d all plop ourselves right in that category. He came not only to heal them but He promised them that one day they would inherit the earth.
What does that mean for me? A simple prayer I’ve been uttering more and more frequently “God, take me lower …because it’s there that I find you.” Praying this prayer and living out the implications are two very different things. (Especially when I realize that the outcome of this prayer may mean more delays for us.) I’ve had just a small taste of living it out and it’s not pretty. But I couldn’t and wouldn’t go back. Call it addictive. When you get a taste of God, even in the face of some of your worst struggles, there is absolutely nothing that compares and no words can even give it justice.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about or think this is just christian-ese or I’m over-spiritualizing things, then ask Him. Ask Him to show Himself to you in the midst of whatever it is you’re in right now. And wait. And watch. I promise you He’ll show up.