Last night I experienced the kingdom of God. It felt warm and inviting, a sense of togetherness was palpable. It tasted like spaghetti and pumpkin pie and coffee with cream. It sounded like laughter, and delight. Like English. Like Spanish. No bright heavenly lights. No booming voices from above. Just an apartment with people and food and God and Catch Phrase. Holy.
And so it was that we rewind to a place of inspiration. Francis Chan spoke at our church a few weeks ago. He said a great deal of wonderful things, and as most sermons go I retained an earful of 10%. But within that small margin, great thoughts of God began to stir. Stories of Jesus engaging with people, stories that pointed to purpose and community, a story that far outreached individuality. A match was lit and two excited pilgrims began to dream about what it would look like to go deeper with our neighbors- to know them, and allow them access into the deepest reaches within our soul.
Enemy tactics charged against us planting thoughts such as “You don’t speak Spanish” or “what if they think you are those weird white people” or “what if we invite them and they say no”. And since God isn’t safe, we could not count on him to relieve our sissy spirits that all would be well and perfect. However, more important than our insecurities, we knew relationships and community are important to our Abba, so take the risk we must.
On Sunday night the beautiful family that lives below us rang our doorbell. Until this moment, they’d been a voice we had seen from the window, an exchange of “hello” in the courtyard, or a quick wave in the alley. And now we faced them eye to eye sitting in our dining room about to break bread together. Their open hearts and spirits ministered to us as we ate. We shared of our wedding day, pictures of white dresses and suits and flower. We savored their stories of geography and culture. They complimented my unrefined cooking skills. High fives passed liberally to Miguel who scored a goal in his game that day. Shared food, laughter abundant, conversation flowing.
But games…oh how games have a way of bonding the soul, and so it was that catch phrase made it’s appearance. Split teams- a cacophony of English and Spanish. Competition raged, acting and charades at an all time high. Back and forth we battled, words overshadowed by rising octaves of laughter. Age, nationality and gender were obsolete.
I closed my eyes and took a still frame. Bubbling souls spoke one language of love. And isn’t that the kingdom? No longer are we known by color or language or age or occupation. We are known as children of God, coming together to praise him in the form of relationship. And so it was that God showed me a glimpse of what he intended. Demolished in our home that night were social constructions of race and gender. Down were the lines of geo-political boundaries, of “us” vs. “them”, and no importance was put on passports or papers that make no difference in heaven. And from the dross, what mattered to God arose so perfectly in the shape of friendship and love and glory to Him.
Heaven came to Topaz lane that night. And while my appetite and longing for heaven has increased, the realization that the here and now is important to our Father remains etched in my mind. To be loving here, to be peacemakers now- to call out friendship, to fill chaos with encouragement and dark places with kindness. But mostly to be armed with courage and a humble spirit that continue to hold hands out raw, and say “here I am Lord, send me”.