Uniforms, waving flags, men in formation, salutes. Cheering multitudes, church bells, military flyovers, royalty. For some reason that I was at a loss to articulate this morning, these were the images on the computer that made me choke up discreetly as I sat next to my wife on our comfy green sofa. I felt my heart swell, a lump rise in my throat, a chill run down my spine. Goosebumps rose on my arms. My hair stood on end. And all of this, over the broadcasted recap of a silly fairy tail wedding. Ach, how embarrassing. How mortifying. How unmanly. How bizarre—!— or was it?
I can honestly tell you that I care about as much for the royal family and their affairs as I do that the moon rotates at 10 miles per hour compared to the earth's rotation of 1000 miles per hour, or that in China, its dark shadows are not seen as a man, but rather "the toad in the moon." Yes, it’s true, I care that much. So why the almost tears? I thought about it as I drove to work this morning. Here are my tentative conclusions.
1) God has awakened in my heart the knowledge that I’m part of a kingdom.
I’m part of a kingdom because I’ve acknowledged the right of a King to rule my life, and that King is Jesus! That acknowledgment, that submission, is rooted in my heart, which is why Jesus says “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here [it is]! or, lo there [it is]! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20,21). The kingdom of God is any time and place where the right of Christ to rule is acknowledged by a human heart. And with that acknowledgment comes a life of walking in the Spirit, living by faith in the power of your King, rather than a life lived according to the rules of this world, by your own power. My heart has been awakened with the knowledge that I’m part of a kingdom.
2) My kingdom heart connects with kingdom imagery.
My heart resonates with kingdom imagery. Prancing war horses, pageantry, towering castles, knights and their adventurous quests—I heart these things. Seeing these things awakens something in my soul. And I don’t think I’m the only one. I think we Americans have a kingdom complex in general; I think we’re all secretly jealous of England’s monarchical history. Why else would we feel the need as a nation to erect our own ‘royal families’ like the Kennedy’s? We’re jealous of royal bloodlines and lineages that stretch back through history and into the fantastic mythologies of Camelot. We may have won our War of Independence, but we’ve lost the war of romance to England’s royal past. And so… millions lived vicariously this morning through the storybook wedding of William and Kate, tuning in secretly at absurd and rediculous hours for just a taste of what kingdom life must be like. But I get a taste every day. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28). ‘Are receiving.’ Every day I experience life in the kingdom of God!
3) My kingdom heart yearns for kingdom celebration.
I also think we’re all secretly jealous of England’s big party. There’s a wedding party going on, even though the wedding ceremony itself is long since over. The whole country, the whole United Kingdom has been invited to celebrate the royal wedding. And that’s what really pulls at my heartstrings; the royal symbols of celebration. Trumpets blaring, wind, snapping the flags, cheering, feasting. The festivities, the party, with troubles forgotten, stresses left behind, the common stuff of life, swallowed up with that greater reality of kingdom joy. Every day I experience the kingdom of God, I am receiving it into my life in ways that matter and make a difference to the world around me. And yet… I do not experience that kingdom in its fullness. Still I am surrounded by the common stuff of life, the sicknesses and disease, the death, the disappointments, the failures of others and myself. I live here caught, halfway in-between the already and the not yet, but I live here by faith in the Son of God. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see,” and I am confident of this, that there is a wedding yet to take place for my King, a party yet to be held at the end of time, and my wedding invitation words it this way—
“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:6-9)
And something in my heart swells, something in my throat catches, something in my soul longs for that day of pomp and circumstance, and I finally stop trying to hold back the tears.
Surrounded By Grace,