When I was six years old, my parents told us we were moving. And I remember feeling this mix of fear and excitement and nerves all at the same time, my six-year-old self having no clue what to expect.
Because the family moving into our old place wanted to move in before our new house was ready, we rented a certainly-not-so-gorgeous apartment for a few months while we waited.
My mom would tell you this is out of my character, but on multiple occasions, if we were roaming the halls of the apartment or coming or going, or heading to do laundry downstairs and saw fellow patrons or any sort of human, I would loudly express to my mom or dad, “When are we moving to our BIIIG new house?”
In all honesty, I remember being more concerned with other people understanding the truth. It bothered me knowing that it appeared that we had made permanent residence in this apartment, while the temporary and true thing was waiting elsewhere. Of course, I sounded as if it really mattered to me that others knew we had a big house, and that’s the not-so endearing side of my six-year-old brain.
Jesus tells his disciples that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, indeed small, until it grows. Likening Himself to the sower, Jesus instructs on the nature of the growth of the Kingdom, that from small beginnings it would grow into a marvellous tree, big enough for birds to nest and take refuge in. I wonder if as humans, our nature to glorify big and bold things comes from what we were created for; glorifying a big and bold God.
Relying on merely principles within the world, this can look like many different things. Maybe you’re someone for whom the devil has twisted the picture of the tree into a picture of our future on this earth. Just like six-year-old me wanted to get onto the next thing, be in the true thing, hip with the times in a modern house, relying on the ability to tell all the new people at my new school that I lived in a ritzier area of town to hopefully make some friends. Maybe it’s living in that place of, “When I move out, that’ll be the paradise life. When I get a raise, that’ll be the paradise life. When I lose weight, or gain muscle, or enter a new relationship, that’ll be IT. When I retire and I’m at rest with more money and a stable plan, then I’ll be happy.”
Or maybe you feel content, “in a sort of tree,” but you’re still restless. Is our nesting place in the Holy Spirit of Creator, or a seemingly comfortable seat in the realm of a very temporary world?
Jesus means to comfort His disciples, to pour out His LOVE when He speaks the truth that we will find permanent lodging in Him, our Father.
When we were staying in this apartment back when I was six, I remember my mom becoming distressed about the beetles we began to find. We had laid out mattresses in the bedrooms and my mom one day came out screaming that there was a beetle crawling right near her face. It was just another one of those things that contributed to the apartment just not feeling like home. Of course, we all longed for a place to call our own.
My little sister, however, would have happily made lodging in this apartment. Now 16, we recently returned from a family trip to New York City, and the apartment life, joined with the busy hubbub of the city, still attracted Courtney immensely. She feels called to serve amidst this “new age” atmosphere.
Jesus goes on to tell His disciples that from within the dominion of Heaven, those called to it are to bring out both what is new and what is old.
Because we serve a Living God, we must obey Jesús’ command to bring treasures both new and old out of His Truth. And while this doesn’t mean indulging new tricks of the devil, who tempts us with making temporary idols based often on the culture of dwelling, it does mean embracing the work of the Spirit today, the “new,” because our resurrected Lord is certainly not confined to the past.
And of course, the “old” is just as important. Jesus calls us to adhere to His teachings and commandments, trusting that “He is working all things for good” and that within those commandments that are simply true, He is doing new things.
Ultimately, when Jesus works His way into our hearts, and we glimpse His Spirit, there is no going back. Nothing else in this world that tries to tempt or satisfy could ever come close and is ever fading, and Jesus puts it this way: “The dominion of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; then in his JOY he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” The man changed by Jesus Christ does not physically lose his life. Jesus promises to fulfill our earthly needs. But the man who knows and abides in Jesus Christ loses the fixation and longings, the restlessness and heartbreak, exchanged for the JOY of serving the ETERNAL Heavenlies. The Heavenlies, which Jesus calls “His Father’s House” in the book of John, “eternity” in 2 Peter, “the better country” to “reign with Christ forever.” Which He calls paradise. And when we accept Jesus as Lord of our lives, we know that that home with Him is waiting for us, there are trumpets sounding in Heaven as we speak, but the work and servantship and this JOY unspeakable is NOW; the Kingdom of Heaven is within us.
“When asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God will not come with observable signs. Nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’ For you see, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
This was true when I was in the little apartment, antsy for a place to truly call home. It was true when my little sister was picturing a future life in NYC, and it will be true if she is living there one day, busking in the streets or working in a little office. And she need only ask the Spirit into her heart to guide her, and you need only ask the Spirit into your heart to guide you, and we witness our Father father us.
In the time of Jesús’ teaching, people thought they knew what He meant when He spoke about the Kingdom of Heaven. But when he told His parables about that Kingdom, they were surprised to hear it compared to a place where lost sheep are found, new is brought out of old. Our faith is built on a HISTORY of God’s rightful dealings with the people of Israel, and then our following a risen Christ.
When our lives are in submission to the sower Jesus, knowing we are the new Israel, saying, I’m coming to Your altar, Jesús, submitting to all your doctrines as Truth and love, we rest in an ever-growing tree, glimpse His precious face, and His Spirit strengthens us to say, “Hence all earthly treasure, JESUS is my pleasure.”