As Believers in Christ we are called to live a Kingdom life style. To the world, the way of the Kingdom of God looks upside down and crazy. We know that God speaks to us to guide us. The people of the world do not understand this. We also know that when God speaks He may ask us to do something that makes no sense. In living God's way, we must lay down our desires—our lives—to bring light into a dark world through sacrifice.
We are taught to pray, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." In her book, On Asking God Why, Elisabeth Elliot says, "If it is the Kingdom of Heaven you really want...you will be on your knees saying, 'Thy Kingdom come,’ which means 'My kingdom go.' You will be saying, 'Thy will be done,' which means 'My will be undone.'" As a dear friend of mine would say during her years as a missionary in Ethiopia, "I have daily opportunities to die to self."
God gave me a practical example of this through the massive snow storm we had on Wednesday and one that we had a few years ago. I had to make a choice about how to respond to a situation that arose. God clearly spoke to me and gave me direction. I was reminded that I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of self. My home is in a condominium community with a parking area without designated parking spots. When it snows, each of us must clear and shovel out our own cars. Several years ago, a storm that dumped over a foot of wet, heavy snow on the ground presented a challenge. I spent over an hour removing snow so that I could move my car in and out and would not have to walk on mounds of freezing liquid in the days to come.
When I came home from work on the following day I found that someone had parked in "my spot" which meant I had to park my car quite a distance from my front door in a pile of snow. My anger at the "spot stealer" grew as I suddenly realized that the “thief” was getting out of her car and that I could go to give her a "piece of my mind." I learned that the "thief" had lived in our community for many years and was a neighbor. She is a woman about my age; however, does not have the physical stamina that God has given to me. The Holy Spirit whispered to me: "Tell her to have a nice day, Joan." I responded: "What? Are you serious?" He confirmed: "Tell her to have a nice day."
After telling my neighbor to have a nice day, I walked inside with steam pouring out of me. It took me a while to calm down and realize how foolish I had been. I had forgotten that my context is the Kingdom of God, not self. On Thursday morning I had the opportunity to demonstrate what I learned a few years ago. As I looked out my window at the snow-laden trees down to the parking lot, I saw my “spot stealing” neighbor struggling to free her car. She had scrapped the snow off the car onto the area next to it and now had almost two feet of snow to move. She was trying to stomp it down with her feet and remove it with her hands. The Holy Spirit quickened in me to get my shovel and help her. Together we cleaned up the area around her car until she could pull it out. I told her to have a nice day!
The Holy Spirit spoke words of affirmation to me in a way that only I would understand--a unique and unorthodox way that brought tears to my eyes. I was reminded of Elisabeth Elliot's words: "In the Kingdom of God the alternatives are not boundless...You opted out of all that when you made up your mind to follow a Master who Himself had relinquished all rights, all equality with the Father, and His own will as well. You are called not to be served but to serve...You can't operate in two opposing kingdoms." Here is what Scripture tells us. "Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:14) We must remember that we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and should live accordingly. Our goal is to glorify God which means obedience, sacrifice and death to self. The rewards of peace, friendship with God and life forever with Him are worth it!
Joan E. Mathias