Tuesday, December 15, 2009

White Picket Fence

The kingdom of God is like…. So many parables come to mind if you are familiar with the scripture. Jesus says the kingdom is a farmer sowing seed, a man hunting treasure, a woman kneading dough, fishermen casting a net, a man forgiven a debt, a wedding guest who forgot his jacket, virgins waiting for a bridegroom, a landowner being generous. It is like seed, yeast, pearl, fish, banquet, vineyard; it all seems so random and unconnected. I used to sing a song about how the kingdom is not about food but righteousness, peace and joy. Perhaps this is why the disciples were always so confused.
I have a story about the kingdom of God. I think the kingdom is a bit like the story in Shriek where all the “unusual” come to Shriek. Or maybe it is like that old Christmas classic, about the misfit toys that save Christmas. There was a little church in Pegram TN that felt that it was a bit like the land of misfit toys. We all were hurt and wounded but we came together and advance the kingdom with love and care.
One of the ways we did this was to give free breakfasts. As Pastor, my theology said that we were supposed to feed the hungry. However, it didn’t say that we were supposed to only feed those that had no food – it just said feed the hungry. Every Sunday morning I made waffles. We fed some of the top songwriters in Nashville and we fed a man on a bicycle who had slept in the park all for free, just to show love.

But I see the kingdom of God as a white picket fence. No I am not thinking about a house in the country with a white picket fence where life is idyllic. I am thinking about a time I was given direction.
My daughter was working on a project for school and was at a friend’s house. I didn’t know where this girl lived. We were new to the area living on a farm on a narrow winding Tennessee road. The girl lived about 20 miles away. I got on the phone with the mother who was going to give me directions.
She said go to the school, and then drive past it. Okay, that was easy. I knew how to do that. Then she said go past the grocery store and turn left on Merrylog Lane. Up until this point, I sort of knew where she meant. She continued, at the end of Merrylog turn left. After that she didn’t know the names of the streets but told me to continue until I came to the white picket fence. After that, turn right. From there it was the third road, turn left, last house on the right and a description of the trim.
The white picket fence concerned me. I pictured a small house with a few feet of white picket fence. Maybe it was short as well. I was so afraid I’d miss it. I worried the whole way. I was so afraid I’d miss that fence. I was so afraid if I missed that fence I’d miss the turn and be hopelessly lost.
When I got to the fence it was so obvious. A beautiful four-foot high white picket fence; it went on for probably a quarter mile. It would be impossible to miss it. I turned right after the fence and found the house with no difficulty.
We live in the time of the kingdom has come and yet has not been fully realized. We travel along with directions that God has given us to reach our destination. We look for the full realization of the kingdom of God. In those directions are things like the white picket fence. Something we think we’ll miss. Something we think we may not see and yet when we get there it is as obvious as that fence was to me that day.
The kingdom of God is like a white picket fence. It seems like on the journey of the kingdom of God we will get lost. We may never find where we are supposed to go. But the white picket fences are obvious. We will reach our destination.


David said...

Thanks for a warm and fuzzy post, Joyce. I often feel like I am going to miss it; be distract with something other than the Kingdom. It felt good this morning to think that maybe I wouldn't miss it after all.

Joyce Lighari said...

You won't -- I heard God clearly that day in the midst of that experience, He said, this is like your life, you think you'll miss it but it will be obvious. I've preached a sermon about my GPS too... I am very imaginative at times... But the thing is, we won't get lost or miss it and even if we do, the Holy Spirit GPS will always get us back where we belong.

photogr said...

Great metaphor of the directions that God give us.

Tony C said...

Wonderfully said Joyce!

I hope you have fond memories of Tennessee...I know I always will.

Joyce Lighari said...

Tony, We will go back to TN as soon as we can. We still own a house there, have three children living there, etc... We are only in South Dakota because of my husband's job.

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