“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” John 3:3 NIV
Every born-again child of God is invited to facing reality in this unseen kingdom.
What does facing reality really mean? And I also ask, “whose reality am I facing?”
For over 14 years I worked in community development. My job was to imagine a better future and create a plan for the community to accomplish it. If we cannot imagine or envision a different reality than what darkness shows us then there is not much scope for dreaming or achieving.
In my job with communities I told stories of what they could be because they couldn’t imagine what they had never seen. I found other cities that had been transformed—cities like theirs—and as I shared the ideas, the residents began to have a vision for a different future. A future with hope in it. They could see a new reality.
Every once in awhile people will tell me I need to face reality, by which they mean I must see and be overwhelmed by the darkness as they are. I must become miserable or hopeless or angry because surely any halfway intelligent person can’t look at the world and not fear.
But throughout the Bible we hear God telling His children, His followers, to fear not. To trust and be at peace for He is with them. Every person who met God saw a different reality than the rest of the crowd.
Noah built a boat in a land where some scholars say there had never been rain.
David put a stone in his slingshot imagining, believing in a God who was with him. A God that no one else could see. And truly no one else saw a reality in which David was victorious. But God did.
When people say I must face reality they point to governments, crime, inflation, or some broken local system; some freedom no longer available; some future without hope. I heard someone say that fear is simply imagining a future without God in it. It’s like faith pointed in the wrong direction. Fear is having more belief in the darkness than in the light.
THE RENEWED MIND
“The renewed mind reflects the reality of another world.” I think Bill Johnson said that.
Everything, every single thing, in our ‘real’ world was born from an unseen world. The earth formed, stars created and named, our very breath given by a God we cannot see. By a spiritual Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
There is only One who created everything. Every amazing thing from atoms to the Milky Way – from fish that glow in the dark to our complex human bodies. Every system in creation was designed, given, and is upheld by the God we seek. By the God who loves us.
Out of this unseen realm comes a reality stronger than death. A love that cannot die. Cannot be silenced. Beauty that never ends…every book I will ever write, every vision I will ever see, every plan I will ever need comes from an unseen realm.
This reality with things I can see and touch, things with mass and form is the fragile one. The unseen reality of my Heavenly Father, of my God, is the substantial one. The one that cannot be destroyed. Its elements are eternal. The space-time continuum does not exist in His reality. Only in ours. He made it for us-for our world, a place with scientific restraints where we could begin to know Him. To have relationship with Him. Exploring the boundaries of who He is and who we are and what He’s given us in creation: naming animals, discovering hundreds of ways to employ a peanut – ways God knew when He created the little legume. Hundreds of ways that are designed into every realm of life. Ways He has always wanted to share with us.
THE CALL OF LIFE
My biggest challenge is in thinking I can manage this life and its reality without Him or that I’m on my own and supposed to do it all myself. Not understanding that His heart’s intention was always to unfold it all with me. To share the mysteries of His reality with His children. To let us stand on the mountains and hear how He flung the stars into space. To wander the desert with Him and see springs come alive under our feet. To experience real life. The true life in our Father, our God, that never ends.
His reality always produces life. Everything it touches rises up in answer to the call of life. A life so big, so thick it pulls us into eternity when we choose it. When we choose Jesus we encounter a reality that is full of life and light and beauty. A reality not dependent upon how I am treated, what people say, or what the circumstances around me are doing. The anchor of my reality is held fast in an unseen world.
And yet we look at one another and say, “Be real, darkness is winning.”
I’m not willing to face that reality. I don’t believe in it.
In fact, I choose to not be part of the darkness – to not spread the darkness. I choose to be a seeker of light. God is in everything in creation. Every single creature, every single one of us. We cannot keep Him out or stop Him. He can be found. He wants to be found by us.
In God’s reality you and I are alive and free. We have each become all He dreamed we would. In this reality, where He calls us, woos us with His faithfulness, we bow to our Warrior-King-Savior who fights for us, not the dark thief who only enslaves us with lies. When we face God’s reality, we hardly even see the liar because the light of Jesus is so bright.
Only God knows what is real. Reality is not what we observe or experience or believe to be true based on the only facts we can see. Reality is what God knows to be true. Reality is something I will never see if I don’t ask God to show me what it looks like to Him.
We, God’s children, God’s artists, writers, and poets are the storytellers of His reality. Painting, writing, dreaming, sharing the the glory and hope of the unseen realm with those whose hearts are longing for a place, a future….a God who loves. It is an adventure to face God’s reality. A joyous exploration of real life.
Heavenly Father, what do you want us to know about being connected to your Heavenly realm? to your reality? Where, how, and to whom should we go and share Your future and hope and reality for them?
There have always been only two stories: the one that God speaks and the one that darkness tells. Each day I get to choose which one I will focus on. Which one I will believe and live by. God’s story is harder to hear. I have to lean in to know what He’s saying. I have to dust off my Bible and read the story of hope and love that He brought generations ago. I have to remind myself that He doesn’t lie. That He doesn’t change. That His story lasts forever. Darkness tells me a different story. It prophesies death and destruction. Today this story screams loudly everywhere I look.
There are also only two kingdoms and I get to choose, each day, where I will live. Which one I will align my thoughts, my words, and my prayers with—which one will fuel my life? Whose words, Satan or God’s, will I believe? Whichever words I believe are true are the ones that begin to create in my life.
In the beginning, just after life exploded in beauty upon the earth, God’s enemy entered the garden to change the destiny of creation. He came armed with a lie. A lie that questioned what God had said to Adam and Eve. A lie that challenged God’s words and spoke of a different future to entice Eve into believing God had deceived her.That surely they would not die if they ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Surely they would only be like God. This story, this lie, was a rational one. One that offered an outcome that seemed reasonable, obvious. Eve believed it bringing death to us all.
Today, I hear two stories: one of evil taking over the world and one of Jesus becoming king. My choice is as basic as Eve’s. Do I trust and hope in who God says He is for me or do I believe the power of darkness as demonstrated around me in violence, hatred, and fear? Who do I really believe has control of the outcome?
I don’t understand either story very well. The dark prophecies have many variations but always result in anger and fear. The words of Jesus, who is the Host of Heaven’s armies and our returning king, result in peace and hope. Beyond reason, I choose Jesus’ story. Even when I don’t understand. Even when I can see no evidence. My hope is not in what I can see, my hope is in who God is and what He has promised. What He gave up to have me call Him Father. My hope is in His word that does not change. That says He’s given me a future. That every thought He has for me is good. That He is the One who cares for me. Deeply. With extravagance. Completely unfairly. He loves me beyond what good or bad I’ve ever done. He does not lie, and He does not change.
The story God tells me is that I am His wildest dream. That every color, every animal, every bit of singing music in creation is for me. Given so I would see Him in His wondrous glory and begin to know Him. His story is one of outrageous sacrifice, offering His precious, beloved son as a ransom to ensure my freedom from the kingdom of darkness. To ensure I could become a child of God, a friend of God with nothing standing between us. What an absurd love. He didn’t wait until I was good or even intending to be good. He took all that I was not, and all raging rebellion that I was, and went to the cross for me.
That story is the one that ignites my faith to believe whatever He says is true. That He is my protection, my hope, my song. Convincing me the noise, the smoke, the violence of God’s enemy in my nation and other nations is a lie. That somewhere, somehow, God will arise and His enemies will be scattered. That some way the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our God. That the earth, its fulness, and everyone in it is the Lord’s because He made them. He does not lie. He does not change.
One day while I was waiting on God, I saw the answer to a prayer I’d been praying for a long time. I was so excited, yet as I got up the next morning I wondered if what I saw was a promise or if it was real. Was it happening now or was it going to happen in the future? I asked the Lord, “Is this real or is it a promise?” His words came almost immediately, rolling loudly through my heart. He said, “What’s the difference?” Like He didn’t know. Like they were the very same thing to Him. Telling me clearly that when He promises a thing it is real. To God, all His promises are real. His word is forever true. It’s up to me to believe it. To speak it. To pray it. To stand and say out loud, as a praise, what He has said. To let it live large in my thoughts. To offer thanks, in faith, that He never lies. He is always good. His mercies are never ending. And He loves me with an unbelievable, unending love.
The difference between the two stories being told today is that one is true and the other is a lie.
Please turn off the news, find your Bible and start talking to the One who loves you more than life. I suggest starting in Psalms or John. God’s heart for you and His story of your future will capture you and give you hope for each new day.
2 Cor 1:20 NIV
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
Numbers 23:19 ESV
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
Is 55:11 NIV
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.
Psalm 23-24 NKJV
Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints!
For the Lord preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person.
Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.