“The baby was just growing within me. I wasn’t doing anything.” A friend of Mile High Ministries said these words reflecting on her experience of pregnancy and connecting it to the realization that God’s Kingdom is not ours to ‘Bring’, but in fact it has already been ‘Brought’. My response to her statement was, “And yet, it was damn hard work!” to which she laughed and wholeheartedly agreed.
I remember vividly the journey through tremendous struggle that led Nicole to the moment when she first held our son, Kilian. My comment about how hard the journey is was, in no small way, coming from my journey as a partner to my courageous wife only 7 weeks ago. It is most certainly true that the mystery of creating life was nearly entirely out of Nicole’s control. And yet, she worked harder as a participant in the process than she had ever worked before. She endured more struggle than ever before. She experienced more transformation than ever before.
This feels like a deeply revealing paradox. Too often we think too highly of ourselves and the work we do. The belief that sometimes creeps in is that the very existence of God’s Kingdom on this earth rests in our hands! This is not only subconsciously arrogant, but also not supported by Jesus’ teachings about God’s Kingdom. The Lord’s Prayer simply acknowledges that God’s Kingdom is coming. Jesus instructs us to ‘seek’ this Kingdom. Never does He suggest that the Kingdom will cease to exist if we fail in bringing it.
But that approach can sometimes lead to laziness, can’t it? We can grow numb to images and stories of injustice, because God is the one in control of this Kingdom–not me! That is where the struggle of pregnancy and birth offers us a paradigm shift.
Nicole played a vital role in the birth of our children. She offered herself as a vessel through which the world would come to know Emery and Kilian. She didn’t systematically assemble our beloved children, but she completely gave herself over to the creative force that did. She simply said “Yes” to the invitation to work extremely hard in order to participate with God in the mystery of life creation!
That willingness to join with God in the mystery of life creation is also our invitation to join God in seeing and participating in this Kingdom Jesus speaks of. On one hand we must acknowledge that it is not ours to create or grow. On the other hand we must acknowledge that the very act of participating in it is an act of tremendous struggle and deep transformation.
I pray that we learn not to take our role in this too seriously. I also pray that we learn to fully give ourselves over to the invitation to participate. The paradox of God’s Kingdom promises to transform every fiber of our reality if we do.