Suppose you had a friend who decided to visit you in Germany. While on a business trip to Washington DC, he stopped by the German embassy and received his visa to travel through the delightful, scenic country. While still at the embassy, your friend calls you, excited and eager to tell you the good news.
“I made it! I’m in Germany! Just got here. I’m sure I’ll see you soon!”
“Where are you? Still at the airport? I’ll give you directions.”
“Airport?” he replies. What airport? I’m standing right here at the front desk. I just picked up my visa. To be honest, Germany isn’t as beautiful or exciting as you made it out to be.”
At first you would smile and then ask if he knew how to ask for a cab in German.
“Quit fooling around! I’m right here at the front desk. Come up front and we can get a cup of coffee at the vending machine.”
“But you aren’t really in Germany! You just have a visa. Now you have to cross an ocean if you want to see the Alps!”
No matter what you say, your friend insists that he is in Germany, in every way that one can legally be in Germany. And, of course, he’s right; but he can’t see the Alps or walk in the Bavarian Forest. An embassy IS the sovereign territory of the country it represents. The German embassy IS actually Germany! When you visit the embassy you actually ARE in Germany!
The Kingdom of God is a bit like visiting Germany. Many believers have made the necessary first steps to enter the Kingdom of God. They are surprised, however, that life doesn’t look that different from what they have left behind.
Where are the miracles? What is all this about mountains being cast into the sea, having the same glory as Jesus, or being filled with all the fulness of God? How does the Lord enlarge our steps or lead us to OUR high places. What does it mean that “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or think through the power that works in us?” What power? Why is prayer like putting quarters in a slot machine, hoping for a payoff?
Perhaps we are still in the embassy. Instead of arguing about whether we are “legally” in the Kingdom of God, perhaps we should ask ourselves why our lives seem unchanged. Is walking with the Living God of Israel today really that different from life in the book of Acts, or David’s passionate love relationship with Yahweh? Jesus said it should be immeasurably better (Matthew 11:11, John 17:22 and John16:7). Paul says the same thing in Hebrews 11:40.
What if we have to “cross the ocean,” after we receive our “visa” in order to experience the reality of walking with a Living God? Are we really going to be satisfied with a “sterile front office” experience, far from the miracles, the adventure and the voice of the Holy Spirit?
The vast ocean that separates us from abundant life is the courage to go openly and boldly before the Lord, trusting that if we wrestle with Him, He will give us a blessing; if we argue with him, He will make our sins white as snow, and if we can bear to hear His voice He will not shame or condemn us but liberate us from our bondage and afflictions with grace and love.
My wife says that the truth will set you free, but first it hurts like hell. Jesus is described as a hail storm and an overflowing scourge in Isaiah 18. It is only if we stand exposed before the hail and floods of God, if we allow “His waves and His billows” to flow over our heart, mind and will, that we cross the ocean and enter into a Kingdom filled with wonders, adventure and beauty beyond anything we ever dared to hope for.