September 26, 2017

Rob Grayson: Long Walk Home

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Long Walk Home
by Rob Grayson

I recently read the following quote:

The kingdom of God comes like a long walk home.

(For those who want to know, it’s actually a slightly edited version of a quote by Brian Zahnd.)

This really connected with something I’ve been thinking about lately, so I thought I’d take a few moments to unpack it.

To begin at the end, if the kingdom of God is a kind of homecoming, then it follows that the kingdom of this world – the world system as currently configured – is not our ultimate home. We are made for life in a different kind of world.

Of course, many Christians have been taught that this other world for which we are made is out there “somewhere beyond the blue”. For the moment, it exists only in our imagination as a kind of ethereal idyllic realm. Whether you refer to it as heaven, paradise, “glory” or whatever, the idea is the same: this is the place where we’ll get to spend eternity no longer weighed down by the sin, pain and corruption of this present world. The negro spiritual captures it well: This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through…

But this idea of the kingdom of God as a metaphysical realm that exists in some heretofore unseen dimension has zero biblical support. In fact, listen to what Jesus was constantly announcing as he walked through Galilee and Judea two thousand years ago: “The kingdom of God is at hand!” In other words, stop waiting and looking for some future idyllic state – the kingdom of God is right here, right now! The great signs and wonders performed by Jesus were nothing less than signs pointing to the inbreaking reality of this radical new arrangement of the world that was and is the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is seen not only wherever blind eyes are opened and crippled legs are straightened. I believe it’s also seen wherever people voluntarily lay down their rights for the sake of others, wherever people take up their crosses in self-denial and self-giving love. This is the present reality of the kingdom at work in the world today.

And yet…

Much as the kingdom is already breaking in, clearly we’re still living in a world that’s badly broken, a world in travail, a world in which pain and sorrow often seem to outweigh joy and satisfaction. This is evidently a world in which God’s kingdom is not yet fully realised. Two thousand years after Jesus, the kingdom may still be breaking in, but we’re forced to admit that it has not yet fully broken in.

So this is the reality in which we live: between the kingdom now and the kingdom not yet. Even as we celebrate the green shoots of the kingdom in our midst, we look with longing to the day when all things will be made new and God’s kingdom will be the all-encompassing reality for everyone.

But here’s the thing: this kingdom dichotomy may be relatively easy to wrap our minds around as a kind of abstract theological theory, but when it comes to the reality of our day-to-day lives, it’s much harder to accept and integrate.

Let me explain.

Even after following Christ for the best part of thirty years, I’m still no stranger to fear, insecurity, shame, guilt, and all the rest of it. This is a source of great frustration to me. I hear and read about this wonderful freedom that Jesus promised his followers, I strive after this freedom, and I try to convince myself I’m free. But the reality is, I’m only partly free. Yes, there is a freedom that I know Christ has brought me; but there is also much from which I am yet to be freed. And, as a good Pentecostal (though really I’m probably not a very good Pentecostal any more), I long for that sacred moment, that decisive Holy Spirit encounter in which all remaining vestiges of fear, insecurity, pride, shame, guilt, pain and sorrow will be washed away. Heck, I even feel jealous when I see others who appear to experience greater freedom than I do.

And this is where we come back to our original quote: “The kingdom of God comes like a long walk home.”

When I pine and strive after the immediate, one-hit fix, I am thinking and operating as the kingdom of this world thinks and operates. I am acting as a consumer: I’ve paid my fee, and I’m entitled to expect the full results, right now! If they aren’t forthcoming, I have every right to be disappointed and frustrated.

This is not the way of God’s kingdom, either as an organic whole or for each of us as individuals. Just as the eschatological realisation of the kingdom takes place over a long horizon, so too the realisation of the kingdom within each one of us is a long process. It is breaking into my heart, but it has not yet fully broken in. It is healing my wounds and casting out my fears, but there is plenty to go at and it’s going to take time. I have begun the journey, but the destination is some way off. The realisation of the kingdom in and through my life is an unfolding journey, not an event or even a series of events.

When I demand that God snap His fingers and give me complete healing from every sorrow, ill and defect, in effect I’m treating God as a heavenly salesman. But God is no salesman; He’s a master craftsman. He takes His time because He knows that the end result will be “very good”.

And so, just as we live corporately between the now and the not yet of the kingdom, I also live in the tension between the now of sins forgiven and love shed abroad in my heart and the not yet of looking forward to that day when everything that is corruptible and pain-inducing will be at most a distant memory.

It’s a long road, with many ups, downs, twists and turns. But there is one who faithfully walks with me all the way. And I know I’ll eventually get home – and what a day that will be! In the meantime, when the frustration of the not yet begins to surface, I will try to think about what Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi:

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.

* * *

Rob Grayson blogs at Faith Meets World.

Comments

  1. Lovely and insightful reflection. <3

    When I was younger, I also waited in vain for that special moment of God's Light and Power to knock me off of my horse and make me a good Christian. Everything in my faith walk seemed to be three steps forward, two and three-quarter steps back. Now, in my mid-fifties with life as a (cradle) Catholic much more behind me (temporally) than yet to come…..I have learned that this IS the walk of faith for almost all of us. It is putting one foot in front of the other, and repeating, and repeating….

    I can only add that I can see, looking backwards, the Grace and learning I have been gifted with, sometimes because of my efforts, but more often in spite of them. Like everyone, I have my favorite sins and blind spots that I try to keep away from the Lord's Hand….but even here, He is making inroads to my stubborn selfishness, little by little.

    For example, I have ALWAYS been an anxious person, reportedly since I was a very little girl. Fear of "what if….." dogs my mind and soul, but LEARNING to trust Him, and experiencing His guidance, has brought that anxiety down to about 10% of what it was twenty years ago. Through the sacraments and turning my mind and heart to the Lord, I have been taught and blessed…..not in one flash, but in a long, long line of tiny moments of Grace.

    • Thank you, Pattie, for your wonderful and insightful comment. You’ve articulated very well the essence of what I was trying to say in my post.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      For example, I have ALWAYS been an anxious person, reportedly since I was a very little girl. Fear of “what if…..” dogs my mind and soul…

      So have I, as far back as I can remember. It’s one of the main reasons I get so hostile to Pious Platitude Christianity, i.e. Cheap Spiritual Advice from those who have NEVER been there. (Pattie, think all-male clergy denying painkillers to women in labor because… BIBLE! They never have to have “their lower lip pulled over their head”.)

      • The trouble is, I very much fear I used to dispense Cheap Spiritual Advice when I had never been there. Now that I have been there (i.e. now that the harsh ground of reality and failure has broken in on my artificial certainty), I feel a bit embarrassed about my past dogmatism.

        • Don’t focus on that embarrassment, Rob. You were attempting to be comforting and help others…..it is NOT your fault that you did not have the tools and did the best you could with what you knew.

          For example, way back when, I was a newlywed and wanted to surprise my bridegroom by putting together our new TV stand [TV’s used to be massive, and this was our first color TV big enough for a living room.] I could not get the screws to turn (wrong type of screwdriver and lack of upper body strength….and a serious lack of knowledge) so I HAMMERED them all in. It looked great for a week until it started to wobble, and I had to ‘fess up how it had been assembled. I was actually PROUD of myself until my young hubby started to alternate between hissing through gritted teeth and trying not to laugh. I had theee VERY best of intentions—I just did not know what I was doing. Consider your previous advice hammering in innocent error. You know better now! 😉

  2. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    > this idea of the kingdom of God as a metaphysical realm that exists in some
    > heretofore unseen dimension has zero biblical support

    +1,000. Really this sentence should be the preamble to every sermon given everywhere by anyone for the next year. Maybe then we could move on the the constant nagging gravity of gnosticism which constantly seems to be bending perception of Scripture. That would be a boon.

    > all remaining vestiges of fear, insecurity, pride, shame, guilt, pain and sorrow
    > will be washed away

    Perhaps because I’ve never been Pentecostal – but there is something about this I don’t ‘get’. And that may be my failing – as I hear this message often.

    Are we using different words, of different cultures, to say the same thing? Or am I missing the meme?

    I wonder if I really completely washed all those things away – would I even recognize myself? Who would I be? There is often, but not always, something informative about fear, insecurity, shame, guilt, pain, and sorrow [*1]. I don’t feel `bad` about my sorrows or shame; I frequently feel that my shame is ‘progress’ [for lack of a better term] and that sorrow is a way in which beauty is appreciated. I cannot even begin to imagine myself without these things.

    [*1] I leave pride off that list, it seems that age itself is a rather effective weapon against pride, and pride is more delusion than the others, pride does not inform.

    > The realisation of the kingdom in and through my life is an unfolding journey, not an
    > event or even a series of events.

    Narrative is a funny thing; it runs not just forward but backward. I’ve endeavored several times over my life to record ‘my story’ at least as an outline of the significant milestones. It is interesting looking back at them how much the story changes *in reverse*. I don’t see the same story in the same events anymore, the context widens and the story changes. It provides an aspect of humility, what will I say or think about X when I look back when I’m 80; provided I am fortunate enough to reach that age with a still solid mind.

    Even at just 40 I look back at my youth and see how much I was a manifestation of Place and Time, not nearly so righteous, self-actualizing, or ‘self’ as I felt in the fever of that youth. I’m amazed at how clearly my “choices” were barely disguised *reactions*; no wonder the village gray beards looked at us and rolled their eyes. [*2]

    In light of this realization I feel released from the Evangelical hand-wringing I once felt compelled to practice [and it was little more than an act, at least for me].. I take myself – as a object – much less seriously. Not that my sins and failings are not a serious matter, but my story is neither an Epic nor do I know where it is going. Not being an Epic is a fantastic relief. I would have never imagined at 20 where and who I would be at 40 – him imagining me would have been impossible. ‘

    [*2] Those gray beards were right about so many things… and they communicated them with hopeless ineffectiveness. I completely missed the point, and they completely failed to make it. Now I realize that they likely lacked the vocabulary to explain what they knew or understood. May heaven grant my generation better words.

    • So many wonderful insights in your comment, Adam.

      In response to your point about not being able to imagine yourself without fear, shame, guilt, etc., I’d like to say a couple of things:

      – First, in the context I wasn’t actually saying that being free from those things should be our ideal aspirational state – I was saying that I’ve often yearned for a magical moment when those things would be wiped away.

      – Second, however, I do think that if “we shall be like him” means anything, and if “every tear will be wiped away” means anything, it has to mean that we can hope for a day when all of those things will be gone from our lives. But you’ve hit on something really important in saying that these things are so much part of us that we can barely imagine ourselves without them. I’d say that’s precisely a big part of why Spirit-led transformation is a long process and not a one-time event: if it was a one-time event, it would rip so much of our identity out of us that we might be left wondering who we are.

      To me, this is one of the failings of the modern Pentecostal/charismatic movement – it sees God’s intervention in our lives and circumstances as magical, as something that happens to us from without. I think it’s much more helpful and much more congruent with real life to see spiritual transformation as a process of untangling things that are deeply embedded within us, and as a process of unlearning and new learning.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        But you’ve hit on something really important in saying that these things are so much part of us that we can barely imagine ourselves without them.

        Sounds analogous to “How do you keep Immortality from being BORING?”

        I’d say that’s precisely a big part of why Spirit-led transformation is a long process and not a one-time event: if it was a one-time event, it would rip so much of our identity out of us that we might be left wondering who we are.

        Then why does Evangelicalism bank everything on the One Time Event (as in Altar Call Say-the-Words)? And its corollary that once you Say the Words, EVERYTHING from your past magically goes POOF? And the very next day you can start Planting that Church as Head Apostle/Pastor? JMJ/Christian Monist has a couple horror stories about the fruit of that belief.

        • I’m assuming that question is rhetorical, because I think you know the answer. Evangelicalism goes that way because it has more or less fully bought into the consumerist dream.

          • Danielle says:

            I don’t know if consumerism is the beginning of the story, but it certainly enters mid-stream. The expectation of sudden transformation and empowerment to serve has theological roots in revivals/conversion experience, holiness doctrines, anti-intellectualism/anti-clericism, and eschatology. But revivalism always did fit well with the ambitions of the Victorian middle class to achieve personal success in private/interior life–which is, perhaps, the very roots of the consumerist dream. Perhaps the two have fed each other. The theology and the dream fit together with uncanny ease.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            The theology and the dream fit together with uncanny ease.

            Synergy.
            Each building upon and supercharging the other.
            Like the fission and fusion reactions in the secondary of a Teller-Ulam thermonuke; the fission reactions put out the X/Gamma rays to keep the fusion fuel at fusion temperature (around 6,000,000 degress) and pressure (millions of atmospheres), and the fusion reactions put out the high-energy neutrons to keep the fission reaction supercharged for the microsecond it takes to burn everything.

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

          And its corollary that once you Say the Words, EVERYTHING from your past magically goes POOF?

          I don’t want to get in hot water from my protestant friends, but this is one reason I am fond of the Roman Catholic concept of penance. Not necessarily the “ok, you were bad, say these prayers” penance, but the idea of penance that Thomas Merton discussed. Namely, the idea that repentance is a long, difficult, and never ending process that takes hard work and effort. I think he described it as a hiker who has gotten terribly lost. Repentance is deciding to walk the right path; penance is that process of hacking through the thorn bushes. It takes hard work, blood sweat and tears. There is no “beam me back to the path Scotty” (that’s my interpolation; Merton didn’t mention Star Trek).Maybe it was Lewis. These things get filed in the same big drawer in my brain.

          • Danielle says:

            I know what you mean. Human experience mostly consists of being in the grey area, in process. Protestant categories, especially in the shadow of the revival tent, can often be black/white. You are in, or you are out. Things are Christian or unchristian. You’ve repented and it doesn’t matter, or you haven’t, and it does. Some of these categories are useful when you are trying to parce out theological concepts, but they do a very poor job being containers for human experience.

            I’m reminded of the faith/works discussions. It’s useful to discuss these matters as separate things, and I think Luther’s reflections are very useful. But it’s a little like asking if a plant is alive, or if it’s growing. Well, if it’s alive, its probably doing “something.”

          • Yes, I agree. Hard work, blood, sweat and tears are not typically part of the evangelical vocabulary.

          • Christiane says:

            the evangelical teaching of the ‘one-time fix’ does contrast with the fruit of the Holy Spirit we know as ‘patience’ and ‘long-suffering’ . . .

            the sacred Scriptures suggest in the very fruit of the Holy Spirit that our journey is very likely that of a life unfolding according to God’s Plan . . . we have reason to need that patience, and we will surely come to be ‘long-suffering’ if we dwell in the world but not ‘of the world’ . . .

            The quick-fix together with absolute assurance of your salvation are strange to my beliefs, so I cannot fathom the thinking that created them as doctrines. If you are ‘saved’, someone said ‘what then’? and I thought that person understands the problem . . . and if you ‘know your saved’, you no longer have a need for hope, something that Christians have always needed since time immemorial. Better to say ‘Jesus, I trust in You’ than to trust in my own status, I think. He is the One who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, not me. Some days, I consider myself fortunate if, when stumbling, I just fall forward. Other days are better, but I take nothing for granted anymore . . . no hubris, no smugness, but also no longer so fearful in a world where Our Lord has come to be ‘with us’ bringing healing in His Hands.

          • Robert F says:

            Dr. F, Merton seemed to be of two minds in this matter (if it is indeed Merton that you are recalling, though it sounds from what you say that it is more likely Lewis). The earlier Merton was quite focused on the slow, arduous path of penance and discipleship, of picking up his cross and bearing it along the rough paths of the historic Saints. He threw himself into the process, the journey, toward the Beatific Vision.

            The later Merton, however, while never repudiating the traditional path to holiness and sanctity as it is known in the RCC, by his strong interest in Zen exhibited a movement toward the idea and practice of process as being. Zen is perhaps the most this-worldly and practical form of Mahayana Buddhism, stressing that this present transient world is itself the transcendent domain of nirvana: samara is nirvana, is the way Mahayanists put it, and Japanese Zen emphasizes this in the extreme. This is what attracted Merton to Zen: yes, one is on the path, yes, everything, including the self, is in process, but there is no need for endless striving toward some ever receding goal, because this present moment, this present place, this present self,is complete and adequate as it is, if one will only see things as they are.

            For Merton, this was experienced as a release from what he had come to feel was the frustratingly self-centered project of becoming “holy” and “perfect.” He had become increasingly disillusioned with the constraints of monastic life, believing that the pettiness and authoritarianism of daily life in the monastery could not possibly lead to the goal of sanctity it promised. When in the last few years of his life he was surprisingly granted permission to live as a hermit, he immediately turned toward a number of practices directed toward finding the transcendent in the imminent: calligraphy, photography, Zen.

            The simple and direct act of “seeing” that Merton found in Zen held the promise of finding the spirit’s deepest longings, not in endless and arduous struggle toward perfection, but in the present and now. He claimed that his own practice had given him a direct and personal taste of the sufficiency of life and the world as they are. For this reason, I don’t think that, ultimately, you can enlist him on the side of those who see the spiritual life as a long, winding, arduous climb up the mountain to the summit of perfection. I think he clearly rejected that concept, and the practices based on it, in the last five to ten years of his life.

          • Danielle says:

            Christiane, when it comes to describing salvation and our experience of it, I think there are certain things Protestant theology does very well, and things it does less well. For example, you wrote, “Better to say ‘Jesus, I trust in You’ than to trust in my own status.” This is precisely the “place” to which Protestant theology is trying to guide people. By distinguishing justification (status) from sanctification (actually becoming holy), the idea is focus on God’s work and produce assurance/love in the recipient of God’s grace. So, hope is very much the point.

            I appreciate this emphasis. I am glad that Christianity teaches that one can eventually be healed from the very many things that afflict us, and that creation will be (and is) being reclaimed by God. However, there are times when the notion that I am on a long road toward a seemingly impossible goal is a source of fear. So is the notion of somehow falling out of grace. I suspect that this is a visceral issue on my part, one I will experience no matter that theology I hold. But Protestant theology does help me deal with it. Ultimately Catholic theology probably would too (judging from the way Catholic writers discuss faith and their experience); but if I became Catholic tomorrow, I know one of my initial struggles would be not getting caught up on the notion of perfection and my inadequacies; or, not getting fixated on the idea that one can commit mortal sins and fall in and out of grace. I believe you all have a word for what I’d be: over-scrupulous.

            Protestant theology, particularly in its many evangelical versions, is less good at describing how the gradual process of being saved looks or feels. Evangelicals tend to vest a lot of significance in the conversion experience, and giving “testimony” often follows a conversion-like template: I used to have this problem, but some event or series of events have taken place, and now things are better, hallelujah! For some reason, when evangelicals get to talking about process (sanctification) they are less good at talking about grey area or change that is very slow or very non-linear. You’d think, given the emphasis on God over the self in Protestantism, that the strong instinct would be able to discuss “process” very frankly and without fear, but evangelicals tend to prioritize the idea that God breaks into the world in fairly dramatic ways. That expectation creates language and “boxes” that don’t really fit well with mundane experience, nor does it deal with the fact that (for reasons not entirely known to us) God’s plan seems to unfold across very large stretches of time. When dealing with this problem, Catholicism seems to have a “leg up”: Catholics seem always to take it for granted that salvation (in the “what I can see, what matters now” sense) comes gradually. Perhaps relates to having such a thoroughly sacramental view of the world.

          • Robert F says:

            Danielle,
            My own experience growing up Roman Catholic was that it was hard to find Catholics who were neither overly scrupulous nor cafeteria.

          • Danielle says:

            Sigh, I’d be both an “over-scrupulous” Catholic [tied up in knots] and a “cafeteria” Catholic [dissenting from various teachings] at the same time.

            It’s a monster. Run, run!

  3. Thanks Rob. I resonate with that post.

    I also had a small stumble at the same phrase as ATW;

    > all remaining vestiges of fear, insecurity, pride, shame, guilt, pain and sorrow
    > will be washed away

    As Adam wrote, I’m not sure I would know who I am if all that stuff disappeared from my life. But, maybe that’s the point…

  4. petrushka1611 says:

    Thanks for the reminder of these things, and for providing one more untangling of what I thought the Kingdom of God to be.

    I do have one musician’s quibble: “This World is Not My Home” was written by Albert E. Brumley, who was definitely white…unless, of course, he did what we white musicians have often done and rip off black music and not give them credit. 😉

  5. Russ Jacobson says:

    Yes your title does say it all Rob, “The kingdom of God comes like a long walk home.” As I have been on my walk home I have too experienced all you write about, my experience of that walk home of the tension of the Now and not yet of the Kingdom has changed from expecting it all, from the consumer mentality of my youth to a slow acceptance of the tension, of the fact that it is a walk, it is a relationship and that One does walk with us in this journey and knows how to work on our life in His timeframe not our “want it now” fast food consumer mentality we grew up with. As I have explored many things in past few years I am slowly at peace with this, and growing in my trust our King knows what he is doing, but yet as you say sometimes long for more of it now. At times as Jesus says “it is here now” I get tastes of it in my relationship — when I am not striving but open and expectant—they are tastes of the Kingdom that is now, near and not yet. Then there are the times when the not yet seem more prevalent, and I try to recount the now and near times, and just relax and rest in the presence of the one who walks this with me. Great post, thanks for sharing what many of us experience….

  6. Yes Rob !!! Exactly what I have been thinking about lately as well . This for me is the next step that FW folks should be looking at. Accepting your own faults is also the beginning of accepting and forgiving the faults of others.This walk home seems strange at times , but can never detract from the truth residing in us that in the end seems so familiar.

    The way the kingdom has been taught in some circles , leave sincere folk disillusioned and kills hope, which is one of the core ingredients to our life according to Corinthians. Understanding this walk in its proper context enhances it.

    The kingdom is spreading and the gates of hades shall not prevail.

    • Thanks for commenting, Willie. I think what you may be saying is that many in the “Finished Work” camp perceive that everything was done at Calvary, thus there is no more processing and “walking out” of the journey to be done. To say this is a highly unrealistic view of life in the real world is an understatement.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Might be “a highly unrealistic view of life” but it’s a VERY widespread one in the Evangelical Circus. And its fruit is everywhere, from “Say the Magic Words” Salvation to Six-Degrees-of-Separation Enclaving to indifference-to-hostility towards reality and life because of focus on Fluffy Cloud Heaven — “It’s All Gonna Burn”.

  7. Christiane says:

    ROB, thank you for your thoughtful post. It made me think of that song ‘Hallelujah’ . . . and the Psalm scripture ‘how shall we sing the song of the Lord in a strange land ?’
    This thought of ‘sojourn’ makes much sense to me now in my senior years. The power of discouragement and despair become much lessened in a world where the dead return to life again.
    There is another ancient Scripture that asks us to say ‘YES’ to life, so that we may live. It is a scripture that reaches far beyond its time and on into the future, and in our own world, we have the Lord of Life Himself to say ‘YES’ to, and we do this every time we turn in humility toward His light as we turn away from the darkness.
    Saying ‘YES’ to the Risen Christ is on-going; that is what many forget . . . but saying ‘YES’ to the Risen Lord is what makes our sojourn both difficult and also possible.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNNVpTB7A7E

    • A wonderful comment and a wonderful song, Christiane (though personally I find Jeff Buckley’s version hard to beat).

      Your comment about “senior years” resonates with me. While I’m not quite there yet (I’ll be 44 in a few months), I’m far enough along to realise that age brings a perspective that can rarely be obtained by those in what Richard Rohr calls the “first half of life”.

      • Amen to that!!!

        Now, of course, is the lament of those in the second half of life….WHY did the Lord have to make human beings so that as our hearts, minds, and souls become richer and more beautiful, our BODIES take an opposite trajectory to become less lovely, less reliable, and a burden that requires attention and maintenance that our 22 year old selves would NEVER have considered??

        Another question for God when I come into His presence, along with why he created mosquitos, and was the platypus SUPPOSED to be a joke…?

  8. Rob a lovely message, personally I love reading your blog posts I find them challenging, sometimes difficult to admit to and yet I think you are very insightful to the reality of this world.

    Not a huge fan of write long lists as everyone else but I did want to finally say something that resembled a thank you and to encourage you keep up these writings!

    God Bless

  9. Rick Ro. says:

    Great piece, Rob. I love when people pick up on the tension of Christian living, either in theological matters or seemingly contradictory scripture or even just plain “this doesn’t make sense.” Indeed, I’ve often pondered the “kingdom of God is here and now” and yet “the kingdom of God is something different than the here and now.” For example, I love singing the worship song, “All I know is I’m not home yet. This is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus. This is not where I belong.” There are times when that song gets me through the day. And yet…and yet…if I’m “here and now,” this IS where I belong, right? I’m an ambassador of God’s, here for a purpose, so I’m supposed to be in the world now! The end point doesn’t really matter, at least not yet.

    I can also relate to your “long walk home” metaphor. I remember my “spirit-filled” years as a Christian (early on, of course) and telling God, “I think I’m ready for anything.” What I was NOT ready for was what came next: a five-year walk through a spiritual desert where I didn’t feel God’s presence at all! Talk about a long walk! But slowly, after about five years, then drifting toward six and seven, I noticed the desert wasn’t quite as bad, that there was some greenery around, and a trickling of water.

    And so, after 27 years as a Christian, stumbling and bumbling around, learning ever so slowly about God and Jesus, your statement, “The realisation of the kingdom in and through my life is an unfolding journey, not an event or even a series of events,” makes a lot of sense to me.

    Blessings to you!