"Nothing here is new except in the sense that it is a discovery which my own heart has made of spiritual realities most delightful and wonderful to me. Others before me have gone much farther into these holy mysteries than I have done, but if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame." (A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Kingdom Driver's Test

As my pursuit of a 24/7 conversational relationship with God continued (which was, in reality, not me pursuing God, but God pursuing me), my daily fellowship with God grew longer and “deeper.”  By “deeper” I do not intend to imply some kind of “super-spiritual” status or study.  I simply stopped hurrying.  I began to spend more time listening to God through His Word and for His quiet and gentle voice speaking to my heart through His Spirit.  This was all His work in me.  My contribution was that I was cooperating with Him, which is how He wants me to live all of my life.  All of it is accomplished by His enabling power: grace.

As I mentioned in my journal entry of May 1, as I immersed myself in the Gospels, the Holy Spirit enabled my understanding that Jesus' message, His Gospel, was that the kingdom of God “is at hand” and is now available for entry by anyone willing to be born “from above.”  Jesus was and is Himself the evidence, the proof, for His announcement that the kingdom of God is now available for entrance by ordinary humans.

My journey was immensely aided by Dallas Willard’s extraordinary book, The Divine Conspiracy.  Dr. Willard explained that the kingdom of God “is the range of his effective will, where what he wants done is done.  The person of God himself and the action of his will are organizing principles of his kingdom, but everything that obeys those principles, whether by nature or by choice, is within his kingdom.”  And he continued…

And this “governance” is projected onward through those who receive him.  When we receive God’s gift of life by relying on Christ, we find that God comes to act with us as we rely on him in our actions” (italics added).[1]

God’s kingdom is projected onward through those who receive him.  That’s me.  I am here on planet earth for the purpose of projecting, advancing God’s kingdom here on earth.  And God will act with me as I rely on Him.  Dallas Willard – and the Holy Spirit – had my attention.

Dr. Willard went on to explain that everyone of us has a kingdom (or “queendom”) – “a realm that is uniquely our own, where our choice determines what happens.  Our ‘kingdom’ is simply the range of our effective will.  Whatever we genuinely have the say over is in our kingdom.”[2]

What we can do with our kingdoms by ourselves (although it might appear spectacular to some) is incredibly anemic and paltry compared to what we can do acting in union with God Himself.

We are meant to exercise our “rule” only in union with God, as he acts with us.  He intended to be our constant companion, or co-worker in the creative enterprise of life on earth.[3]

The Holy Spirit was making my heart so hungry for that kind of life.  That conversational relationship with God I was so desperately wanting - that relationship included me being God’s constant companion, His co-worker!

God nevertheless pursues us redemptively and invites us individually, every last one of us, to be faithful to him in the little we truly “have say over.”  There, at every moment, we live in the interface between our lives and God’s kingdom among us.  If we are faithful to him here, we learn his cooperative faithfulness to us in turn.  We discover the effectiveness of his rule with us precisely in the details of day-to-day existence (italics added).[4]

Intimacy with God in the details of my day-to-day existence – that was the hunger of my heart.  So I determined to walk there.  I woke up every morning thinking about it (and I still do).  When I got in my truck and headed to the office (or wherever), I was driving thinking about cooperating with God to extend His kingdom in my day-to-day existence.

And driving became the first real “test” of my commitment.  It might could be called my “kingdom driver’s test.”

For many of us, driving is one of our ”kingdoms” – the place where we intend for our will to rule.  That may be one of the reasons so many of us are rude or just plain idiots when it comes to driving.  We drive with anonymity (or at least we think we do).  Our world is inside our car, and we rule there.

I have a different kind of problem when it comes to driving.  I’m something of a “rules keeper.”  I stop at the stop signs.  I drive the speed limit in town and as close as possible to it on the interstate – trying not to get run over.  Yeah, I’m that annoying driver.  It was just how I was “raised.”  The problem is, I expect everyone else to keep the rules too.  With those kinds of expectations, I’m set up for some frequent and significant frustration – and sometimes anger.

As my fellowship with the Lord Jesus grew more intense – and real – the Holy Spirit was going to teach me what a horrific problem my anger was (more about this in a later entry).  In fact, I learned that almost every sin I committed began with anger.

So, I was determined to immerse the kingdom of my driving into the kingdom of God’s rule and will – and to extend His kingdom to the drivers I didn’t know, especially the ones who were not following the rules.

I failed miserably at the beginning.  But those failures became a little more intermittent and rare as the weeks went by.  I was so grieved at every failure.  But I remember Kathryn laughing one day as we drove to the office together when I asked her if she had noticed how much better Little Rock drivers were driving recently.

They hadn’t changed.  I had.  I was changing and growing!  It seemed that I was almost automatically praying for those non-rule keepers, and I was especially looking for opportunities to be courteous and thoughtful to those drivers who were not.  I can assure you, this is the work of God in me.  It was happening!  I was cooperating with God to use my little kingdom to extend and project His kingdom right here on earth.  If God could do this in me and through me in this insignificant way, I was even more convinced that He could change me in ways and areas where I needed a much more drastic transformation.

Don’t miss that word “automatically” in the previous paragraph.  That word became a cornerstone in my understanding of discipleship.  And that concept revolutionized my understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

[1] p. 20
[2] p. 21
[3] p. 22
[4] p. 23-24

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