We are all in the business of Kingdom building. Subconsciously or intentionally, we spend our days creating, building, and fluffing our kingdom of self. We fill our little kingdoms with the things we love and the accolades we receive, and often we hope it will support the weight of our desires. And yet our small kingdoms cannot withstand the pressure. We desperately need a bigger, better Kingdom. This is exactly why Jesus came.
With the unpredictable weather in Texas, we have become proficient tent builders. One by one, we haul the dining room table chairs into the master bedroom. Using the bed and chairs as the perfect boundaries, we canopy the room in blankets. We drape my old high school t-shirt blanket as the tent’s roof—proudly displaying every club, prom, and football season. We spread out a beach towel for the floor and stack pillows to make walls—impenetrable borders until our playful dog storms the fort. Will likes to take his favorite things into the tent. One basketball, baseball, and football at a time, he is creating his perfect little kingdom.
One afternoon in particular, we built a fort. Will—a busy almost-two-year-old—was just having a rough afternoon, and eventually it ended in a meltdown. He wasn’t feeling well, he was tired, and quickly he retreated tearfully to his tent. After a couple of minutes, I noticed that his crying hadn’t calmed, and he was lying with his little face buried in the beach towel. He needed to be lifted out of his despair—he couldn’t do it himself. I bent down and dipped my head under the blanket, crawling towards my melted toddler. Even in his upset state, he didn’t resist as I scooped him up and into my lap. His head was warm and his tears streaked my shirt, but I held him close. He needed someone to come into his tent kingdom and lift him out.
In that moment, I was overwhelmed by the clarity of the Gospel in the most average of days. There is a Celtic saying that talks about a “thin place.” This particular phrase describes a place where the veil between heaven and earth is particularly “thin,” so much so that one is able to catch a glimpse of eternity. In a “thin place,” for a moment in time, heaven and earth seem as one. It’s an incredibly beautiful thought for us as believers. For me, I can think of no thinner place than the edge of the mighty sea. However, the mundane—the normal activity of day-to-day life—has become a beautiful thin place as well. It’s not the ocean’s roar, but it’s equally as staggering. Will is no different than his mama. On a day when I doubt the Lord’s goodness to me, I desperately need someone to crawl into my tent and rescue me from my own meltdown.
The great news of Easter is that Jesus came for me. He came for you. He came for the world that He created. Breaking into our world of self-made kingdoms, the Kingdom of God overwhelmed our brokenness. “Though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). The Lord Jesus—in all His divinity—bent down and crawled into our t-shirt blanket tents. Despite our unreasonable state and lingering mess, He came. Into our small kingdoms, He moved in to save us from ourselves. Our despair and self-created chaos did not deter heaven’s grace. It knocked down our pillow walls and stooped low to give us hope.
As I sat with Will in his tent, I caught a glimpse of the Lord’s dying love for me. Easter is the most staggering, beautiful picture of our mess-turned-clean state. Our Savior lives and reigns at the Father’s right hand today, but He also lived and reigned in our broken, needy world so that we could have life. Our little kingdoms cannot withstand our deepest need, and they don’t have to. Heaven’s Kingdom accomplished all that we need and more on the cross.
At Christmas, we celebrate the coming King—a Savior who stooped low and left the brilliance of heaven for the muck and mire of this world. At Easter, we rejoice that He came, lived, died, and then rose. Heaven crawled into our t-shirt blanket tents and, in His infinite grace and mercy, pulled us out that we may truly live.