How I have longed to sit down and write to you! I am pretty sure I’ve written parts of this letter in my head at least a dozen times during the past month, but it seemed like I could not find the right time to sit down and get started on paper! I would blame the fine spring weather for keeping me outdoors and away from my computer…if, indeed, we had experienced more than a handful of days of fine spring weather. I looked out my office window at 3:30 this afternoon and the snow was flying like it was the middle of January…there was an incredible squall that seemed to be coming out of blue sky! Anyway, I am glad to have the opportunity this evening to curl up on the sofa with my PB&J sandwich and a cup of coffee…and time to write.
Here we are…Holy week…and my mind is swirling around with lots of thoughts about Jesus. I could probably fill at least a half dozen pages with those thoughts, but I don’t seem to have trouble filling pages, and I’m not sure it would be a useful exercise anyway. My thoughts would probably seem disconnected to you…sometimes they seem that way to me! Still, there is a specific thought about Jesus that just keeps coming back to me over and over again, and I really want to share it with you. I hope you will just sit down, grab a cup of coffee (and a PB&J if you are so inclined), and ponder this with me.
I keep thinking about Jesus in God’s kingdom. I’m not sure what has me mulling this over and over, but I think it started last Halloween, when my sister, Amy, emailed to say that she was getting “two princesses, a turkey, and a chili pepper” ready to go trick or treating. I was kind of surprised that her two little girls (Hailey age 4 at the time, and Taylor aged 2), who are very different in both appearance and personality, both wanted to dress up as princesses. The more I thought about it, I decided that Hailey (red hair, glasses, with the most delightful bookish vocabulary) would be the princess who would ride a magnificent steed through her Father’s kingdom daily, making sure the needs of the subjects were met, concerning herself with governing and justice. Taylor (who has dark hair and darker eyes that just beg for something beautiful to behold) on the other hand, would stay in the castle making sure that the settings for tea were just so, that the aesthetic needs of both the subjects and all visitors to the kingdom were met in detail…all while she whisked around in an ornate gown of the loveliest color. I can picture them still.
When Halloween night arrived, these thoughts about princesses were on my mind again. I had just a few trick-or-treaters come to my door, and most of the little girls (even the wee ones, dressed by their mommies) were dressed as…you guessed it…princesses. (I did make the fatal mistake of calling one little girl a princess when she wasn’t. I was set straight when she pulled her little denim jacket open to reveal a shirt with a pink Supermanesque “S” on the front and said “I am Super Girl!” Okay, I stand corrected. Still, she had a pink tulle skirt and a little crown…how was I to know? I started wondering why little girls, some who are tomboys, others who are girlie girls, all seem to have some innate desire to be princesses. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this desire does not really fade as little girls become grown women either, it just gets tucked down. Think of the “princess weddings” you’ve been to…and all the fuss around prom gowns! One day I overheard a little girl and her mom talk about the movie they had just watched…Rapunzel. I seriously could not tell who was more excited about it…the mom or her daughter. Curious. Why are there so many books, movies and TV programs about princesses and fairy tales? (Think Princess Diaries, any number of Disney movies, and the clever TV series “Happily Ever After.”) Fairy tales and stories of kingdoms and princesses have been around, it seems, as long as people have. So what gives? The whole thing sat in the back of my mind through the holidays, and surfaced again in January.
I visited another sister, Wendy, in Omaha on my way home from a trip to Arizona (that’s a whole other letter) and I got to spend a very relaxed day with her and her family. (In case you’re wondering, I have a lot of sisters! Faith (age 5) is the youngest of three, and the only girl. I watched her sit in the middle of the living room floor in her pink princess gown, playing with her little princess dolls and a very cool castle. She was totally absorbed into the kingdom that danced its way through her mind as she moved her princesses from room to room, and activity to activity, within the castle. I would have given anything to be let into that wonderful world of her imagination where she was a princess interacting with other princesses…and princes too, of course. I wondered again what is in the heart of a girl or a woman that calls to a kingdom. Don’t you think that’s what the “princess phenomena” is, a call to belong to a kingdom?
I know there may be some of you reading this letter that think I am creating something that doesn’t exist…because you may not feel any need whatsoever to play the role of a princess, and never have. Let’s say that when you were a kid, you wanted to be a cowgirl riding the fastest horse…roping strays, leading the posse, and managing the ranch…did those dreams ever include a rugged cowboy who came to your rescue or worked along side you? Perhaps, like me, you wanted to be a ballerina (even if your body isn’t designed to wear a tutu or stretch to lengths completely unnatural), and if the ballerina thing didn’t work out, I would be an Indian maiden with a keen sense of survival in wilderness places, and a killer buckskin outfit, moccasins included. I’m pretty sure I never thought I would dance alone, and there were always Indian braves in my dreams…and I was always capable, needed, and accomplishing something noble in my day to day life. If you think about your play and little girl imaginations, I’ll just bet that at least some of the stories you made up were princess stories…even if you weren’t technically a princess. Did you want someone to see you as beautiful? Did you want your beauty to be appreciated? Did you want to make something beautiful or wonderful or beyond ordinary? Did you want to do something noble and kind? Did you want a rescuer when you felt trapped? Did you desire to do something wonderful and worthy? These, if we are honest, are princess-related…at least they seem that way to me. Don’t you think?
Okay, so how did I get from thoughts on the Kingdom of God to cowboys and ballerinas? I guess it’s this…have you ever wondered why the Bible talks about God’s rule and reign as a kingdom? Jesus brings up the Kingdom of God over one hundred times…., and the repentant thief on the cross even recognized that Jesus belonged to a kingdom (see Luke 23:32-43). Do you think that this innate desire to be a princess is somehow related to a reality that is so deep in our make-up that we can’t readily recognize it, even if we can feel it? Do you think that reality could be that we were made for a kingdom? Do you think there is some possibility we sense we were made for God’s Kingdom? Does that thought make your heart skip a beat? I hope so, because it nearly puts me into cardiac arrest! Could it be that I was created to be a princess in the Kingdom of God…and you were too? Could it be that this is a very real thread woven into the warp and woof of the fabric comprising our feminine souls? The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that even though we live in a world that is constantly distorting truth, this thread is like gold in a fabric of linen. Even though the deceiver tries his best to camouflage it, it’s a shining thread that cannot be completely hidden and we see glimpses of it all our lives.
So, what does it mean to belong to the Kingdom of God? It means we have an eternal home. It means we have a protective Father, the Mighty King, who is supreme and unrivaled. It means we are safe. It means we have a rescuer. It means we are loved. It means we are needed. It means we are blessed. It means we are accepted. It means we are relevant. It means we have great privilege tied to great responsibility. It means we have purpose, whether that’s riding out to check on the activities of the kingdom, or staying in the castle to set tea…and we do not need to be anyone but who we really are. It means that no matter how we are dressed or who people think we are, our hearts are noble and our motives pure. It means everything.
Here’s the thing that just puts me over the top…every woman who has ever walked the face of this earth has been invited to be part of this kingdom. You have. I have. The lonely, the destitute, the educated, the rich, the poor, the insecure, the intelligent, the beautiful, the average, the plain, the rejected, the unloved, the abused, the confident, the fearful…every woman, every girl. God calls us by name. Jesus knows your name. All He wants you to do is recognize Who He is and what He has done…He wants you to believe that He is who He says He is. He is God incarnate who lived a perfect life, and then sacrificed it on a cross to redeem anyone who accepts both their need and His provision. No one killed Jesus. He gave His life in place of our own. Then, the power of God gave it back to Him and He was resurrected from the dead so he could save those who call on Him. Could anything really touch your heart more? We were created to live a kingdom life, and sin spoiled it all…but please, please, please, that is not the end of the story! We are locked in that dungeon, true, but all we really need to do is call the name of Jesus, and believe that He has the victory in His hand…the ability to save, and He rides in on that amazing white steed and rescues us and keeps us with Him forever. It’s daring and beautiful! It’s everything you dreamed it could be! It’s real!
That’s not to say that there aren’t still battles ahead before we get to rest in that kingdom, but when Jesus rescues a princess, He doesn’t lose her back to the enemy. She is His forever. While the enemy might fight fiercely to at least keep that rescued princess down, King Jesus never leaves her unprotected or alone. He is constantly with her.
Okay, one more story to share. A couple of weekends ago, I visited my sister, Amy, and she popped the movie “Frozen” into the DVD player, so her little princesses and I could watch. I was the only one who had not seen this movie…Hailey and Taylor obviously had seen it several times. (Amy confessed that they had watched it often…because she loves it. If you have not seen this movie you should…every princess should.) Hailey donned her lovely pink princess gown for the occasion and stood in front of the TV, swaying to the music with her arms outstretched, singing with the songs. When it got to the part where the princess with the magical ability to freeze things with her fingertips was forced to wear gloves so she wouldn’t inadvertently hurt anyone with her uncontrolled power, Hailey yelled, “MOM! Where’re my gloves?” Then she ran to where her coat was, pulled her pink, puffy mittens out of the pockets, and very ceremoniously pulled them onto her hands. She then extended her arms in front of her and let out a deep sigh, as if to say she was relieved that her powers were now contained. I nearly cried; it was so very sweet.
Hailey spent the second, “intense,” half of the movie sprawled across my lap. When it was over, she sat up, her face close to mine, and I asked her if she was a princess. I was so surprised when she put her head down and rather emphatically said, “No!” I asked her who had told her that! I explained that she is a princess. She asked me how that could be. I asked her if she loves Jesus, and she said she does. I told her any girl who loves Jesus, and has Him in her heart, has become part of His kingdom…so, she is a princess! She was smiling sweetly, but then a contemplative look came over her face and she asked me, “Is my daddy a king?” I told her no, there is only one King, and that’s Jesus, but since her daddy loves Jesus and has Him in his heart, he is a magnificent prince. Delighted, she hopped off my lap and went off to play. I had no idea if these concepts would stick, but the next day God blessed me with a little insight into that. Her dad’s parents were there visiting and her grandma asked Hailey if her daddy was grandma’s baby boy. Hailey looked down and thought for a few seconds, then she said firmly, “No, my daddy’s a prince!” Way to go, little princess! Way to go!
PS…”May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace.” -Psalm 144:12b (NET Bible)
PPPS…”Surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.” -Matthew 12:28b (NKJV)
PPPPS…”Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” -Luke 12:32 (NKJV)
PPS…”And He (Jesus) will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.” -Luke 1:33 (NIV)