Flashes Of The Kingdom
(read Mark 5-8; 15% of “The Gospel As Center” by DA Carson & Timothy Keller)
“The fall, the fall, oh God the fall of man
The fern is found in every eye and every hand
Nothing there is nothing yet in truest form
We walk like ghost upon the earth, the ground in groans
How long, how long will you wait?
How long, how long till you save us all, save us all” – Gungor
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. – Colossians 1:18-20
In the darkness of the morning, I stumbled to my coffee and headed out the door. The door was blockaded. My almost 18-year-old had left me a note and a book. “Read it,” the note implored. Lauren had finished Bob Goff’s “Love Does” in a day, and obviously thought I should soak it in as well. More than the freshly brewed coffee, my smile and perhaps a flash of a bigger Kingdom woke me up. How ironic. For years we’ve pushed and pushed and prodded for Lauren to read during study break. We’ve not been above bribery in our efforts. Suddenly she’s asking me to read! Wow. (I’m thinking I should adjust my study break reading schedule) The epic news of Jesus making all things new and restored is full of ironies. Jesus flashes the Kingdom by whimsically strolling on water. In fact, he almost walks right past his frightened friends. We fight the waves, Jesus dances. Ironic reversal.
Walking out to a blustery early morning beach, I heard a loud cough somewhere in proximity. I noticed there was movement behind some stacked beach chairs. Upon further gawking, it looked as if there were people taking shelter in the cave of beach furniture. I wondered if perhaps they were homeless. They were. A manager of the property came and kicked them out. I’m sure this just wouldn’t help Florida’s tourist industry to allow such travesty to actually be seen. The homeless couple scuffled to pull their things together and walked off with their bikes. Flashes of the Kingdom… where falleness, injustice, and lack are forever forgotten. Sometimes the Kingdom can be seen by what it is not.
Four more chapters of Mark continued my search for epic news of a restored earth. Beyond me being saved and getting to heaven, Jesus was passionate about the reconciliation of all things… including me but so, so, so much more. How could I have missed this? How could I have neglected this? Where was this epic news in Bible college? Why was this clear narrative of the entire Bible glossed over? Was I just sleeping through class on epic days? I plan to ask some of my college classmates.
Last night n our screened in porch (with an impending storm blowing in over the Gulf waters), the family enjoyed dinner and some Bible. We’re going through the Lord’s prayer. We keep camping out on the familiar, “Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” Flashes of the Kingdom. We also took a look at the parable of the sower in Mark 4. Jesus is talking about the Kingdom… again. The epic news of creation, sin, redemption, and restoration. We’ve relegated the parable of the sower to how people read and receive the Bible. The Bible is the seed sown. Done. Next parable, please. But it’s bigger than that. The Bible is all about all of God’s creation being restored. Jesus’ parable echoes Isaiah. There will be folks who have eyes but cannot see. There will be those with ears who cannot hear. There will be people who reject, halfheartedly accept, replace for way lesser things, and fully live out with great Kingdom fruit.
My walk this morning was long and slow. Two miles. Gungor accompanied me. I now realize why Gungor has been captivating me for a few years now. I’ve realized why their concert back in Atlanta was something I had never seen before. I thought it was JUST an eclectic musicality, but it so much more. Epic. Flashes of the Kingdom. Gungor seems to capture the narrative of all scripture about God’s great creation being restored to a new heaven and new earth. It seems all their music has this thread running through it in deep, artistic, creative ways. It makes for great beach walking companionship.
While I was walking an older lady ahead of me was out pacing me and frustrating me. I couldn’t catch her. She seemed to be going somewhere. Her white hair matched her white blouse (women over 75 don’t wear t-shirts) — which went perfectly with her blue skirt. Her running shoes were a bit out of context, and I assumed THE reason for her leaving me in her sandy dust. Suddenly this older woman turns around with a smile and wave that says, “Come on!” What? Who was this strange lady? Why was she waving at me? Weird. Suddenly a little girl all of four years old goes flying by me. She scurried into the arms of an assumed grandmother, and the two of them went disappearing into, what seemed to me, a better future. Flashes of the Kingdom? Maybe. Unless we become like children, we will never see the Kingdom of God.
I know this is weird… like God being a large black woman in Young’s “The Shack”… but that white-haired woman with the blue skirt and walking shoes seemed to be signaling a greater, bigger, Kingdom to be considered and sought after. Metaphorically, it was all screaming, “Come on!” Maybe it was the Gungor music. Maybe too much sun. Maybe God’s Word. Maybe a flash of the Kingdom.
By the time I got back inside, three of my kids (the two oldest with the youngest) were lying peacefully in bed… together. What WILL the Kingdom be like someday? I hope to keep having eyes that will see flashes of the Kingdom.