Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Losing the Kingdom

My son loves cities.
He loves the tall buildings around the car as we drive down narrow, congested streets. He loves seeing people and cars and stores.

I’m not sure from where this obsession originates.  He did enjoy the city reveal and exploration scene in the Curious George movie. George gets off the boat and wide sweeping aerial views of the skyscrapers are shown as he embarks on a new adventure.
Isaiah also likes books that show the city, especially if a train is venturing through or in front of the city.  

When we drive into a city he gets really excited.
Entering Portland
“City!” he’ll yell from the back seat
Sometimes he yells “Cities!”  He’s at least partly conflated the big tall buildings with a city.
So, “groups of tall buildings” = “cities”

The City 

We live outside of Portland and to get into the city of Portland we usually drive between two hills and through a tunnel under another one. There’s a huge park on one side of the freeway (which is also the location of the Zoo and the Children’s Museum) and trees all around us. It’s a steep incline as if into a forest cave.

Coming out of the tunnel the transition is immediate, striking, and awe-inspiring. Skyscrapers are immediately visible. Various freeway choices sprawl out in front of us, interchanges and bridges. No longer a forest, but a concrete jungle

. Depending on which way we go after the tunnel, we might cross a bridge (he also likes bridges). From the bridge we can see the busy riverfront, boats, other bridges, and the road right into downtown.

just after the tunnel
Isaiah will continue to exclaim “City!” or “Cities!” as we pass various landmarks and immerse ourselves in Portland. His excitement lights up the rest of the family and makes trips through traffic fun. He points things out to us and to his brother. He wants to draw our attention specifically to the highlights, things we’ve probably already noticed like signs, and boats, and bridges, and, well, cities.

On a recent trip we took a different turn than we normally would take after the tunnel. Isaiah was excited and looking around, right up until we turned off the freeway into an area with smaller buildings and more open space between businesses. But for Isaiah’s 7-year-old mind, we had lost the cities. And from my 36 year old mind, it was hilarious.
“City! …Mama, Papa, Cities!  Mama, Papa, I want to show you something…
[at this point we turned into the neighborhood I described]
“…um… um… wait a second…it has to be around here somewhere”

So we’re driving through Portland, just outside of downtown, and my son can’t find Portland!
“It has to be around here somewhere”

The Kingdom

Then I realized, I make that same silly mistake all the time.

I truly believe that the Kingdom of God is all around. It is available.
That’s the Gospel Jesus preached;
“The Kingdom of God is at hand.”
The reign of God, the stuff of God, a relationship with God, it is close, near, available, and accessible.

I believe it.
Sometimes I even live my life out of the knowledge of that reality.
I see grace and love and truth and beauty and I get excited. I announce it for all around me to hear. I point things out to those around me, even if they already see it I still want to draw extra attention. My excitement is infectious.

…but other times I lose sight of it.
I’m sad or tired or overwhelmed. I let myself get complacent and lazy and I stop seeing it. I get frustrated with my own sin and the state of the world around me. I have physical issues that affect me mentally, a backache or a headache perhaps.

For whatever reason, I lose sight, and my faith weakens.
And I doubt the truth. I doubt the Kingdom. I wonder if the reign of God is real. I wonder if Jesus hears my prayers. I forget that the Kingdom is at hand.

And there I am, just like a confused 7-year-old, sitting right in the middle of it, and lamenting,
“It has to be around here somewhere”

Maybe sometimes it looks different than I expect. And maybe sometimes I need to know what to look for. And maybe sometimes I need to expand my definition.
But even when I forget it,
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
I believe it.
I’m living in it.

I hope I don’t forget it again.

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