I remember a time early one January when I was praying to know God's direction for the coming year. The demands on my life seemed more than I could deal with, and I couldn't see a way to lighten the load. In the quiet of my longing, the message I heard was, "You have a relaxed and gentle life."
At first I scoffed at the thought, because my life was anything but relaxed and gentle. But that's often what God's love does - it makes us see life from a different perspective. God was giving me a wake-up call to understand a basic Bible teaching: the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
I've been helped many times by remembering Jesus' words "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15). But I saw that I needed a more tangible understanding of the kingdom as present in the normal activity of life. Heaven isn't a place to get ready for. It's a mental place we can live in right now. To me, what brings the kingdom alive is understanding that God's love and support are operating now. This is divine law. It commands respect and obedience, because to think and act out of sync with the kingdom is to deny the reality that our life is in harmony with God.
It has taken me a couple of years to admit that I have a relaxed and gentle life. The admission has come from seeing more of the kingdom from day to day - in quiet moments of prayer, and in the beauty around me. On a walk with a friend the other day, we found a new hilltop view of a lake, and we enjoyed watching the sailboats. It wasn't hard to feel the kingdom at hand. But I'm also learning to feel it in my office - to enjoy peace at the end of a challenging day.
The best thing about admitting the kingdom is right here is that we feel supported by God. It's a support that gives fresh perspectives, new ideas, a more tangible feeling of being loved. In this calm, we find ourselves moving naturally into expanded service. Feeling God's support nudges us into expressing more expectancy and trust, purity and peace.
Even if we feel engulfed by chaos, we can gain stillness. The harmony of life hasn't been displaced, only lost sight of temporarily. Our relation to God and His law predominates.
Another advantage of living in the kingdom, of being more steadily conscious of divine Love's presence, is that we're less inclined to get over-involved in the details of daily living or to push ourselves to match human models of success. It's good to desire to live constructive, productive lives. But the highest standard is the one Jesus set for us: to live lives anchored in love for God and His creation. And knowing that the kingdom is here, we'll find that our highest ambitions to serve God can't be turned into frustration, pressure, or inadequacy. Because the kingdom is at hand, pure motives are defended and brought to fruition.
Admitting this involves the greatest humility - turning from evidence that denies the kingdom and acknowledging that God's government is now in force. Jesus said, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17). To repent implies not just regret for our mistakes, but an active willingness to turn from them. So when we feel pressured, we can repent. We don't have to agree with that feeling, because it's not from God.
To admit that God's kingdom is at hand isn't just to have outward poise and resilience. It's to gain an inner assurance that our oneness with God is the real power in our life and that we are loved by Him.
Let us learn of
the real and eternal,
and prepare for the
reign of Spirit, the
kingdom of heaven, -
the reign and rule
of universal harmony,
which cannot be lost
Mary Baker Eddy
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society