The women of the IF:Gathering have left me with words that are game changers; too much to process in one sitting or one day. This is part four of a week long look back at the ways that I don’t want to stay the same.
As I sit down this morning to write about what was probably the most impactful sentence of the whole IF:Gathering for me, I feel incredibly inadequate to say anything more than what these words already say: “We live out God’s kingdom to the same fullness that we believe in it.” Another Jen Hatmaker gem. It stands alone in both is simplicity and it’s profound truth.
And still, these words resound. They demand something. They beg the question for me: What do I believe in the most? Myself, or my God?
Jesus was quite fond of speaking about the kingdom of heaven. He often taught about it in the form of parables, like in Matthew 13 where he compares it to a merchant selling everything he has to buy this “pearl of great value.” But taken as a whole, the entirety of scripture tells of a God who cares a great deal about his kingdom and has made two things regarding this kingdom very clear: it is of great value—so great it is worth losing everything else in our life for; and there will be a great opposition to both believe in it and actually live for it. It is worth fighting for, but there will be a fight, we can count on it.
Thinking about eternity, about God’s kingdom, takes a lot out of me. Because it is both overwhelmingly beautiful and overwhelmingly intimidating; my mind cannot fully get there, cannot wrap my mental comprehension around the concept of forever. We are beginning and end kind of people, because everything else in our life has a beginning and an end. Life itself does. Good seasons come to an end, hard seasons come to an end. Everything we put our hands to eventually comes to an end.
So the questions flood in: how much do I believe in this kingdom that will last forever? Do I believe in it in the morning, when I think about my day ahead and the to-do lists and babies I will take care of and the people I will interact with? Do I believe in it when my husband has a terrible day, and we are a bit at odds and each one of us wants something the other person cannot give in the moment? Do I believe in it when motherhood feels exhausting and on days when I just cannot get a parenting victory? Do I believe in it when something really sweet happens? Do I believe in it when the bad news comes? When I’m scared? Because if I really believe in God’s kingdom and all it’s grandness, the answer to these questions are underlined with echoes of God’s glory and seen through the lens of eternity. That is what all of these things are about. And, wow, that changes so, so much. Life feels so big and important right now, and it is. But it’s not big and important because I am—with all of my dreams of success and a nice career and well-rounded children; it’s only big and important because God left his followers with a work so big and important to do: love Jesus and love people. And we will live that only as much as we believe it is true.
I wrote this sentence on a stick note and put it on my mirror, because these are every day words. They are big picture words for a big picture life. The more space in my mind and life I make for God’s kingdom, the less space there is for me. And that’s kind of perfect, I think.