Posted by: deerharas | August 28, 2007

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord …

The aforementioned “Kingdom of God” post #1:


A few weeks ago, in an unusual turn of conversation for my coworkers and myself, we somehow got onto the subject of the lyrics to the Battle Hymn of the Republic.  The question was what followed that initial iconic phrase: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”  I offered up, “He is trampling out the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored.”  This totally makes sense if you ask me.  Grapes grow on vines, which you would find in vineyards, right?  Turns out that the word is “vintage” not “vineyards.”  Who knew?


However, more than the vineyard/vintage discovery, today I am drawn in by those first few words to the song, most specifically the phrase, “Coming of the Lord.”  Several months ago while at a small group Bible study, our leader asked us about our feelings concerning Christ’s return.  As a group of young single adults, were we simply ambivalent to that event, or did we anxiously long for the coming of our Lord?  I think we all knew what the right answer was supposed to be, but one person with a humorous honesty so characteristic of him interrupted with, “Nope, not married yet.”  And while everyone laughed, I think many of us felt the same way even if we lacked the audacity to say so out loud.


I recently had the opportunity to speak about singleness at “Saturdate,” a conference about relationships, love, sex, and truth (taglines from all our publicity).  I could blog about a million thoughts and experiences leading up to and surrounding the conference, but the one thing that my mind keeps returning to is the kingdom of God and the coming of that kingdom.  Stick with me here; I promise I have a point.


Back when Saturdate was just a vision in my friend Stacey’s mind, accompanying that vision was the music of Shawn McDonald.  Through going to one of his concerts, reading about his conversion, and identifying wholeheartedly with the lyrics of his songs, she couldn’t shake the feeling that this conference should somehow involve this particular artist.  More than a year later, Saturdate was on, and not only was Shawn on board as Saturday night’s performer, but his wife, Kate, was coming as one of our main session speakers. 


Several weeks before Saturdate, Stacey held a ministry team meeting, the thrust of which being to prepare our hearts and minds for the uncharted path we were to journey together.  God had really been speaking to her through a book called, “A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer,” and she was anxious to challenge us as the Lord was challenging her.  She asked us to try and recall the last time we had prayed the Lord’s Prayer, of which none of us could really remember.  In Matthew 9, the disciples of John the Baptist come to Jesus asking why they and the Pharisees fasted but Jesus’ disciples did not.  Jesus responds, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?  The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”  Our Bridegroom has been taken away, and Stacey’s encouragement to us was to pray as Jesus instructed, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  Lord, come back.  We desire You above all else. 


Again, I am tempted to digress into those million other thoughts and experiences, but I will try to stay true to the original spirit and intent of the post.  There were some team members unable to make it that night, and because she was going out of town the next day, Stacey asked me to duplicate the meeting for them the following night.  A little nervous about communicating such a message, I borrowed the book that had so inspired Stacey’s words to us.  (And on a side note, let me just say: John Piper, where have you been all my spiritual life?  I read “Don’t Waste Your Life” at the beginning of the summer, and again, wow.)  That night I devoured the first half of the book, and one of the most significant and convicting chapters was entitled, “Fasting for the King’s Coming.”


Piper talks about the early church and how a word often found on her lips was the Greek transliteration of the Aramaic, “Maranatha,” meaning, “Our Lord, come!”  Those first believers were anxious for the return of their Lord Jesus.  Jesus taught them and us to pray for His kingdom to come.  Is there anything in me that honestly aches for Him and His kingdom in this way?  Or do I echo the words of my friend and say, “Nope, not (fill in the blank) yet.”  Not married, not rich, not experienced, not fulfilled.  Piper writes, “This ‘eager waiting’ of the early church for her Bridegroom to come explains why she prayed the way she did.  You can’t really long for something as intensely as she longed for Christ and not cry out to God.  So she cried out and prayed, ‘Lord, thy kingdom come!’  Maranatha!’  ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’  Surely this hunger for Christ needs to be restored in the comfortable church of the prosperous West.  The absence of fasting is indicative of our comfort with the way things are.”


Soon to come … Kingdom of God part 2

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