I recall a time when my family and I were headed off on vacation to South Carolina. I had only one place set in my mind during that trip, the Salty Dog Cafe. You have to understand. The food from this place was the ONE thing that I desired on this trip. That ocean-fresh seafood was going to make the rest of the adventure just oh so much sweeter.
Now of course in a chaotic series of events and delays the cafe was already closed up by the time we arrived. I was.. Well. To put it lightly.. Not pleased. Even to this day I would say that I am still a bit of a “Salty Dog” about it.
(If you have never read Mark 9:30-37, now would be the time) You see, in this passage the disciples are receiving a special lesson from Jesus. He had led the disciples far off from the great crowds that so often followed them, demanding signs and wonders and words of wisdom from Him. He was careful to ensure that His most trusted friends would share this moment with Him, and Him alone. After leading them off to a secret place, the stage was set, finally hidden away from the many prying eyes and straining ears of the people.. Jesus could now unveil to them “the plan”!
Oh how beautiful! That great thing that those before them– the prophets, and kings, and priests had longed to understand! That angels in heaven had longed to look upon! That thing that had been hidden away since before the beginning of creation! That wondrous redemptive saga penned by the Father, written with the atoning blood of His son, every word given the power of life and death by the Spirit, the breath of God!
He finally unveiled what had so long been covered! That He was soon to go down, and give Himself over to be killed on our behalf.. To bear the consequences of our own sins on Himself.. And that the story did not simply end there, but that He would rise again from the dead. Victorious over the last enemy– Death.
The disciples, being much like I often find that I myself am, failed to understand this amazing plan of God. And shortly thereafter on their journey to a nearby town they began arguing with one another about who among them was “the greatest”.
I am almost entirely positive that the disciples missed it. When Jesus revealed to them “the plan”, they could have been overcome with remorse or said to Him “Lord, please no!” But they remained silent. I don’t think that the reality of those words ever really sunk in. And I believe the reason was likely that they were so concerned about their own “kingdoms”.
You and I are not so very different from these disciples.. We still desire that our own delicate little “Kingdoms of Self” will flourish in peace and prosperity. All the while neglecting to realize that WE are not here for “our kingdom” but HIS kingdom!
Let me explain.
- We love to “control” situations.
- We love to get our own way.
- We love to have people serve us and meet our needs.
- We love being right.
- We love recognition.
- We love justice when it is in our best interest.
- We love when our name gets called.
- We love when the checkout line opens and we get to be the first that goes in.
- We love when our work gets turned in on time and yours doesn’t.
- We love when our car works and yours is in the shop.
- We love when we get the last scone
- We love when our kids behave and your kid throws a temper tantrum.
The list can go on for ages. And each line on it point to the same kingdom of Me, Myself, and I sitting upon the throne. That is why I was and still am upset about not getting the chance to visit the cafe that I wanted to stop at in South Carolina.
Because my “kingdom” did not receive what it desired.
You see, I believe that sin causes us to be Nearsighted– or rather “Me-Sighted”. You and I both. We still need rescuing from our very worst enemy. Ourselves. Our own “Kingdoms”. Those little sandcastles that we like to build and play in become our prisons. All the while ignoring the kingdom of God.
Thank you Jesus that you are not done with us yet. That even today His grace is rescuing us from our own selfish desires and our own rule to live as “sovereign kings” in our own lives.
Jesus explained this ever so graciously and sweetly to the disciples.. “It’s not about getting your way. It’s about loving and truly caring about others.” And instead of Jesus getting angry with those foolish disciples.. He had grace. Grace that pointed back to HIS kingdom.
The litmus test that shows grace has found you is when you are excited for others to win. Then you know. And to quote Paul David Tripp: “It really is true that real life is found only when His kingdom comes and His will is done.. And that exactly is what grace welcomes you to.”