Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36)
How High and Why
There is an idiom related to understanding “the bigger picture” of an idea or event. It is expressed as getting the “view” anywhere from the ten-thousand to the forty-thousand foot (or mile) height which helps one to see the whole scene or concept better.
As related to my series on the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How believers in Jesus Christ “occupy” this planet literally and spiritually, the height I am referring to figuratively is the topmost edge of the Universe.
The reason I have chosen this perspective is because of Who is found there.
I have chosen that place above and beyond all that we can think or imagine as we spin around on this third rock from the Sun making our choices–faith or folly–because, as faith knows, He “…who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4) rules and reigns atop His kingdom somewhere at its highest point. Other metaphors point to His infusion IN His creation, but that’s another image, another poem.
And I go to the heights of my imagination because in these unprecedented times of stress, hostility, polarization, and lawlessness, it is hard sometimes to rescue one’s mind and emotions out of the burning streets, flaming rhetoric, and lies, to regain strength, clarity, health, and wholeness during the occupation.
As humans, we still want to fight back, fix the mess, fire the trouble-makers. There is some appropriate and needed work to do there, for sure.
And as believers, we walk a thin line between anger and righteous anger.
But also, as both humans and believers, that is to say, works in progress on this mortal coil, we need respite.
Who is at the Edge of the Universe–and Everywhere Else (A Reminder from the book of Job)
God, enthroned atop His creation, reminded Job Who is really in charge (with a few illustrations) and by so doing also reminded Satan (as well as Job’s friends who were in a quandary as to exactly why Job had experienced such heavy losses). God put it this way:
2 ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Gird up your loins like a man,
I will question you, and you shall declare to me.
4 ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone
7 when the morning stars sang together
and all the heavenly beings* shouted for joy?
8 ‘Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb?—
9 when I made the clouds its garment,
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed bounds for it,
and set bars and doors,
11 and said, “Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stopped”?
12 ‘Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
13 so that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It is changed like clay under the seal,
and it is dyed* like a garment.
15 Light is withheld from the wicked,
and their uplifted arm is broken.
16 ‘Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this. (Job 38:1-18)
Of course Job understood these to be rhetorical questions as well as the reminder that God is sovereign. As noted elsewhere by God Himself, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”* (Isaiah 55:9), but in patiently reminding Job–and us–of this, God might also be compared to an architect who from time to time needs to spread out the blueprint when some nervous new home owner wonders why the retaining wall on the north side is worth the expense.
And His ways and thoughts, His blueprints, even to today and on into eternity are still sovereign, keeping the planets in their orbits and the people in theirs as they make their choices.
On the Eternal Wokeness of the Enlightened Mind
I also cite the string of metaphors in the Job verses above because when we lift our eyes off of the painful temporal to focus on the bigger, eternal picture, it has a way of soothing the mind, calming the soul, and reviving the spirit.
You might say it begins or enhances “the eternal wokeness of the enlightened mind,” to express it in today’s vernacular.
There is more, so much more to life and wholeness, to hope and faith and love, to assuage the frustrated mind, angry soul, and troubled spirit and to solve what ails us individually and as a race while we go about our daily lives.
So. Much. More…
…than the transitory baubles and bangles the world offers that men and women fuss and fight and kill and destroy over for such a very short season, our lives being like “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14)…
…when we can know He who laid “the foundations of the earth,” set the cornerstone in place, and witnessed “the morning stars [singing] together and all the heavenly beings [shouting] for joy…” as He reigned then and reigns now and forever at the top of His universe–and in every corner, nook and cranny, jot and tittle of its vast, unimaginable expanse.
And, lo, amid all that glory and granite, seen and unseen, He holds out His arms to gather all who would be enfolded in His eternal grace and love.**
You and me.
I mean, where would YOU rather “be”?
On the streets?
Carry on–or enter***–the saving, healing, tender loving care of your Creator.
He knows the outcome and yours.
He’s got your back…
…and your eternity…
*For more on God’s dealings with Job and the very good outcome of his trials and tribulations, read here.
***Here is information on how to enter into God’s saving, loving grace.